Originally Posted on July 23, 2020
Last Update on August 3, 2020

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Everyone makes critical mistakes.

Michael Jordan missed many shots for the winning buzzer-beater.

Richard Branson failed more than succeed in his new ventures.

What they’re different from others is their resilience.

They always learn from failures, stand up, and then try again – until they succeed.

Today we’ll talk about learning from failure.

I hope you’re going to feel better in failing and make the most out of it.

The Power of Learning from Failure

Why is learning from failures so important?

First, let’s start with the obvious one.

If you keep learning, you don’t repeat the same mistake again and again.

Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

By knowing what doesn’t work, you can iterate your actions.

In other words, you can set an anchor in infinite options.

The second reason for learning from failure is to move faster.

Learning from failure isn’t blindly thinking failure is a good thing. You still want to avoid it no matter what.

However, if you try avoiding failures at all costs, you soon realize you procrastinate and plan too much. In this very fast-moving world, moving too slow would kill your work.

So learning “how to fail” and dealing with it well would give you extra speed.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, said, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.”

Steps to Learn from Failures

Now let’s take a look at detailed steps to learn from failures.

A great result is a by-product of great planning and execution. Therefore, failure is a good opportunity to revise your daily processes.

Step One: make sure to be open about and pay attention to failures.

When Alan Mulally arrived at Ford to lead the company, he asked his reports to share what’s going on, and everyone said it’s going well until he emphasized the importance of seeing failures. At that time, Ford was losing billions of dollars every year. [1]

So don’t hide failures – and face them as learning opportunities.

Step Two: Don’t focus on winning.

Sota Fujii, who became the youngest titleholder of Shogi, cares more about matches he lost than ones he won because he can learn more from defeat.

Have post-mortem meetings after every project to discuss what went well and not. There, don’t just talk about things went well but focus more on what didn’t go well and why. Identify the reason is super important.

If you’re running a solo project – you should do this alone too.

Step three: Implement the learnings.

You will repeat the same mistake if you do it in the same way.

After the post-mortem meeting, you shouldn’t just list things up. Be sure to implement changes to your day-to-day works.

Revise your checklist, wiki, action plans, and anything related – until you constantly succeed.


[1] https://hbr.org/2011/04/strategies-for-learning-from-failure

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