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We all bare the scars of failure. Life breaks everyone. However, some people end up stronger in the broken places. This is true of teams, too. Do you recognize a broken team? Have you been a member of a scarred team? Is your team failing now? If so… celebrate!

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What, you don't think your boss will appreciate enthusiasm for such an unsuccessful, inefficient, disappointing, muddled, flunky, lame team? We say celebrate — because you have the opportunity to fix that team and be a stronger, viable cohesive unit.

Short-Term Failure Yields Long-Term Success!

Albert Einstein's rules of work:

  • Out of clutter, find simplicity.
  • From discord, find harmony.
  • In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

Failure is always a possibility. Always. It's out there. It's nature. It's human nature.

Have you ever watched a newborn walk? Of course not. A newborn is not developmentally able to walk (unfortunately they can't change their own diapers, either). What about a toddler? Have you ever noticed a toddler learning to walk? Toddlers do not wake up one day with the ability to successfully navigate their way around grand central station. But we were all toddlers at one point in time (some of us are still pretty juvenile) and we feel confident of our ability to walk (except after those holiday office parties). So what happened? Well, we ain't no Dr. Spock, but we notice that when learning to walk, children fall on their tushies. A lot.

Here's the cool thing, though — not one of us, as toddlers, stayed sitting on our bottoms, simply refusing to get up and try again. With minute and incremental changes, we were able to adjust our balance and become better, stronger walkers. It was instinctive. We fell down — we tried again a little differently. Momma, look at us now! And we don't even think about how we do it.

Our point is this: failures are opportunities to try again and be better off for it!

At New & Improved, we're strong advocates of what we call "group humility." From a training perspective, we get there by giving the team challenges that are perceived as easily overcome, but are chosen for their uncanny ability to cause the team to behave in unproductive patterns (failure) that they know intellectually are unproductive (failure)… yet they still behave unproductively (failure) anyway. A very humbling insight. But a very important thing to learn.

If we are not willing to take chances, we will not innovate. If your team is not willing to take chances, your team will end up unsuccessful, inefficient, disappointing, muddled, flunky, and lame. We don't always have a choice of which perfect people we are teamed with, but we do have a choice of HOW we work within a team. Will you take the risk? Will you be the first to think of your 'failures,' your team members' "failures", your team's "failures" as OPPORTUNITIES?

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way." — Babe Ruth

P.S. Thomas Edison failed over 3,000 times to develop a working prototype of a light bulb before he succeeded. After the first thousand mistakes he said, "Well, we're making progress — we know a thousand ways it can't be done. We're that much closer to getting there." Wouldn't it be amazing if your team could take on that attitude?

"Well, we messed that up good! We're making progress." Amazing! •

Next: Turning Off Judgment to Turn On New Ideas!

©2004 Jonathan Vehar. All rights reserved.