At the beginning of March, before life became as we know it today, I went to see Elizabeth Day speak, she talked about how learning to fail allowed her to succeed better. How failure has taught her lessons she would never otherwise have understood. I have pondered this and have spoken to many different leaders over the last three weeks about how they have learnt from their failures. Our enforced lockdown is a perfect moment for reflection. The idea of building up emotional resilience by failing and developing a strategy to help deal with and not shy away from failure then allows confidence to be built and risks to be taken. Reflection is a time for us to learn how to do things we have never done before. To structure businesses in a new way. To act in a better way, to be kinder, to more inclusive of diversity. To be committed to the transformation our world needs.
During these uncertain times our thoughts about personal wellbeing, safety, the economy and the world at large are challenged. Perhaps now is the time for braver and more courageous decisions to be made.
I was struck by the consistent theme running through all my conversations; being honest about ones vulnerability was the root of great strength. This strength seemed to be particularly vivid in those who were honest about these failures and prepared to learn from them. To make different decisions and change direction. After the current challenges one thing we know for certain is that life will not be the same. So now is the time to really be brave and innovate and make those decisions that allow for new thinking, new ways of working and a new norm to be developed. Now is the time to not be afraid of failure but rather take risks. Out of crisis often comes clarity and enlightenment.
I was surprised by those I spoke to who were happy to share what they perceived as their failures but did not seem to have learnt in any way from them. Failure is a wasted energy if we do not learn and use the learning as building blocks for greater self-knowledge and future success.
If I were to highlight a few key learnings;
- Use every crisis as a pivot towards great ambition. Innovate and adapt. Invest rather than retreat.
- Be clear about the vision for your organisation, base that vision on a purpose.
- Be brave. Be very very brave.
- Be truly authentic. Go back to your roots and your values. Remind yourself what your true purpose is and then focus on it.
- Put your people and their feelings first. Nurture and care for them.
The decisions we make now will shape how we emerge from this pandemic. They will dictate whether we become stronger societies and a stronger global community. The decisions we make for ourselves and our businesses will determine future success. So let’s be brave and let’s take the opportunity to make the changes we need to make for ourselves, for our businesses and for our society.
I had a call today from my dear friend and mentor of mine, and when I asked him how he was feeling he said ‘I hope lessons will be learnt and that we all do better’. So go learn those lessons. Get lined up. Make good and kind decisions. Get match fit for when we come out the other side.