By Paul Smith, Co-founder & CEO //
In order for individuals and organisations to grow and thrive, it is vital that they embrace risk and be willing to fail. Maxims like ‘fail forward’ and ‘fail fast’ have made the way into our lexicon. But just because everyone is talking about the importance of failure doesn’t make experiencing those setbacks any more enjoyable. In order to accept failure, and more importantly to get out there and try again, we need to be courageous and resilient.
Alison Rowe is the CEO of the Moreland Energy Foundation and was the Chairwoman of the Future Business Council. From an early age, Alison learned the benefits of failing fast, failing early, and of course, trying again. It takes time to build courage and resilience, but these are vital characteristics of an effective CEO or Director. You need to be willing to try innovative things and be willing to failing in order to achieve something great.
Some of Alison’s ideas for building resilience include:
- Having early failures is a good thing; it gives you the opportunity to practice resilience and forces you to learn from your mistakes and try again. If you ever fail, you never have the opportunity to learn and grow.
- Look after yourself and build a proper work-life balance. Do things that you enjoy and that make your work environment fun. Having that sense of enjoyment and stability in your day-to-day life means you always have a strong base to return to if your new attempt at innovation doesn’t work out perfectly.
- Accept that you’ll never be able to execute perfectly. Every attempt will bring with it a blow to your confidence and the thought that you could’ve done better. You need to become comfortable with this and back yourself.
- You’re never going to have all of the information you need in order to make a decision, so you need to trust your own intuition and experience and resources to make the best possible decision for the situation.
Another important distinction when it comes to accepting and embracing failure is understanding the difference between ‘courage’ and ‘bravery’. ‘Bravery’ is the ability to confront pain or danger without feeling any fear. ‘Courage’ on the other hand is recognising the fear and discomfort but doing it anyway. It is the ability to undertake an overhwelming difficulty despite the eminent and unavoidable prescence of fear. As Naomi Simson said in her book ‘Ready To Soar’, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”.
In my conversation with Alison for my podcast, we also spoke about being a non-conformist, having trusted advisors inside and outside of your boardroom, developing a ‘Risk Appetite Statement’ for yourself and your organisation, and the different size requirements for boards at different stages of growth.