By Sarah Askari & Steven Senior
Throughout my career and life in general like so many people I have tried to avoid failure, and when I do fail it is something I often feel ashamed and embarrassed about and it can affect my confidence. In the past I have tried to avoid failing and sometimes that has meant not embracing new opportunities in case I couldn’t do it. Thinking to myself “What happens if I fail?” as if that would be the worst thing in the world.
I have always been taught it’s important to be a winner and succeed in life and not to fail and I think this is often drilled into us at a young age. But how do we grow, develop, and improve if we do not push ourselves outside of our comfort zone? Learning from our mistakes and inevitably sometimes this will mean failing. Everyone has a natural reaction to self-preserve and “save face” by creating excuses for why something went wrong, however it is only when we step outside of our own safe spaces that we pivot our own lives forward. I do not want to be the person that in 10 years time is still doing the same thing because I stayed in my own comfort zone. In ten years time I would like to be in a position where I stepped out of my comfort zone several times and now work on a new level and have pivoted my life and career in several different ways.
Imperfection and failure can be beautiful things because through failure we develop, progress, innovate and create. The Japanese celebrates this instead of shying away from it and they call this “Wabi-sabi” which is a world perspective centred on the acceptance of beauty that is imperfect and incomplete. It is not the imperfection that matters it is what you do to turn the imperfection into something good. Perhaps the failures in life are the lessons that allow us to grow into stronger and more robust people.
I think this is such an important lesson to teach our children in schools and our employees in the workplace, that they should not be afraid to speak out even if they get it wrong, to push themselves, try different roles and if they fail then learn from these mistakes and be better next time. If we are stifled by fear of failure, we cannot flourish creatively.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
Often teams can be unintentionally dictated to by single visionary leaders that push their own vision that may not be shared by the collaborative team. We are clever together and motivated together when we are “creatives” in the team ideation and not just “pawns” in the process.
Working environments where you are scared to speak out because of ridicule, or for fear of rejection for putting a poor idea on the table, or just feeling ignored and underappreciated are toxic working environments which will inevitably damage the company and create a high turnover of staff.
Since we have been working as a collaborative team it is amazing to see that even the worst ideas on the table are used as triggers for better ideas, we need to thank the people that have the strong and the weak ideas that allow us the diversity of ideas that allow us to create brilliance as a collaborative team.
You will not get the best out of people if they are anxious, stressed and micromanaged which is still how so many companies are running their businesses today. Leaders who always think that they are right, dictate to their staff rather than including them in the decision-making process and creating competitive divides between the teams, rather than encouraging them to collaborate and work together.
It is a strong belief at Signbox that people do not need to be managed, it is the companies processes that do need managing and once these are in place your employees can be responsible for their own actions and have the space to flourish at work if they chose to. Also encouraging the collective team to want to collaborate and work together and support one another. Inevitably in these positive working environments employees will work longer hours and harder for you if you give them the respect they deserve and the team will grow stronger. Just for clarification we do believe that there is a massive difference between management and leadership. People can self-manage themselves if they are motivated and respected. Managers being inspirational leaders is the objective for our team.
Failure is not something we talk enough about in a positive way and this is something we at Signbox have been reflecting on and this ethos run strongly through our company culture. It is our responsibility to encourage our staff to step out of their comfort zone and not to be afraid to ask questions and push themselves, having the reassurance that if they do fail we will help them learn and improve. . Signbox will continue to strive towards its objectives of making every single employee “the best version of themselves”.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
We have recently been looking inwardly at the areas of the company that we can improve, engaging with our staff, listening to their feedback, and implementing changes. This has not only improved our business, but it has empowered our staff giving them a greater sense of wellbeing and self-worth, and an understanding that they are appreciated and listened to and that they can make changes. This has made us a stronger, happier, and more cohesive company
It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
Picasso learnt that success came from failing quickly and he would yield from failing repeatedly. He was estimated to have produced approximately 50,000 pieces of artwork during his lifetime, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, and ceramics. Picasso continuously reinvested himself, changing his style, innovating, and experimenting and because of this became one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. This shows us that often the people who really succeed in life are not only the ones who have the greatest talent, but the ones who have the resilience and determination to pick themselves back up when they fail and keep learning and pushing forward. You can never expect to get it right every time.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
We often see this attitude adopted by famous sporting figures such as David Beckham, Serena Williams, Michael Jordon and Christiano Ronaldo who are the very best in the world at what they do. They have a self-belief, work ethic and dedication to their sport that we can only admire, and they did not get there without making lots of mistake and failing but they kept practising, showing up and trying again until they became the very best.
I have failed many times, but I have never gone into a game expecting myself to fail.
Don’t fear failure embrace it!