Morning Advantage: Stop Talking Up Your Failures. Start Learning from Your Mistakes
September 12, 2012 Editor 0From HBR
“Somehow, it has become cool to brag about how your last business failed — and what a wonderful learning experience it all was. But that’s a crock. You only fail when you give up, and giving up is something that winners never do. In my opinion, only cretins celebrate their failures.” So says Howard Tullman in his take down at Inc. of one of the hot buzzwords in business, failure. The post is worth reading for the sass alone, but its practical advice is spot on too. Although we shouldn’t gussy up our failures, Tullman says, we should certainly learn from our mistakes, and making the most of our missteps is critical to the success of entrepreneurs and desk jockeys alike.
If stumbling is inevitable, Tullman suggests, especially when starting a new project, the key is to do so cheaply. Start small. Don’t invest all your energy and resources into an idea or product, at least not at first. Second: don’t hold true to your plans. When things go south, have the courage to change direction as quickly as possible. Third: develop a case of amnesia. And, lastly, in Tullman’s own words, “Don’t waste your breath blaming others; you’ll need that breath to say ‘I’m sorry’ — and then get back to work and get over it.”
Football fans love to rail against their team’s front office, yet the average NFL franchise is worth about one billion dollars, so the suits must be doing something right. Kevin Clark interviewed execs from the league’s top teams and came up with a list of management tips that are applicable to all. Meddle modestly is the first tip: ask questions, of course, and spur thinking too, but let your charges make the decisions you hired them to make. In other words, don’t emulate Al Davis, the deceased owner of the Oakland Raiders. The second tip is to limit outside hires. Long-term employees, in the words of Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II, “tend to reinforce the culture you have, the successes you have, and building on past successes is easier if you have people that have been along for the ride.” More tips within.
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