Gold Nuggets in Failing Forward


“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” John C. Maxwell

We are in uncharted waters. What was successful in the past doesn’t necessarily equate to what will be successful in the current COVID world. Failure is inevitable. The very need for innovation has organizations experimenting with new business practices—some things will work, some things will fail. By failing forward, we will find ourselves picking up momentum en route to success.

I have been particularly impressed with a coaching client of mine, let’s call her Sonya, who is learning firsthand what this means to fail forward. Recent failed attempts have required tremendous vulnerability on her part in admitting that her team’s solutions didn’t work. We’re not easily wired to embrace failure. Accepting ownership without wasting precious time blaming others has earned her genuine respect from her team. By creating an environment of transparency, her team now speaks up to voice early signs that might well lead to the next derailment. Getting to action quickly, she has pulled cross-functional task forces together to lessen the impact of failures and begin the daunting turnaround with critical corrective actions.

We must transcend failure and be willing to experiment, fail, and try again. It will be by mining for failures that we will find the gold nuggets of success. The real gold nuggets come in debriefs of lessons learned. When Sonya has debriefed her failures, pointed out mistakes, and told others “they may be right,” she has accelerated their collective success, become nimble in achieving their best performance outcomes, and will keep from getting sidetracked going down rabbit holes the next time.

Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

What will you begin again today with your team…this time with greater wisdom?

Written by: Carolyn Lowstuter

About the Author

Carolyn Lowstuter
Senior Vice President, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

As a seasoned Executive Coach, Carolyn Lowstuter explores what is possible with her clients. She partners with them to go beyond traditional coaching practices to transform and sustain impact and to unleash their authenticity. Clients realize more of their own potential through greater self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and broadened perspectives. Her clients leverage their strengths and apply pragmatic skills to achieve greater organizational influence and endorsement. She is skilled in mobilizing others into action, interpersonal and behavioral agility, as well as high performance team building. Read Full Bio



This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mark Walztoni

    Reminds me of Joseph Campbell or Karl Jung’s insight, “Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.” True if we recognize that opportunity and mine it as Carolyn observes above.

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