POWERFUL LESSONS ON HOW CEOS TACKLE FAILURE AND SETBACKS
In a world like ours, the only way to survive the hectic competition in the market is to climb to the top – head steady and strong. But like all things of nature following the basic law of physics – the higher they climb, the harder is the fall towards failure. All of the best leaders and entrepreneurs are well versed in this agenda, and keeping their minds clear through any storm is crucial to reach the top of the ladder, which is why you see their names on the best listings and billboards around the world. No company was built overnight and none had a straight path to the climb, which is why the leaders of the world all follow some specific strategies and tactics to help them set themselves up for the best results even in the worst-case scenarios.
Most successful people will let you know that they faced their share of failure in some point of their career but no one can put it better into words as the Co-founder of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, who said “My mother used to tell me, ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’ So at some point, I learned not to dread failure.” – And we couldn’t agree more. Failure is a part of the journey and without its part in this play, no one would be able to create things to the best of their abilities.
Sometimes there is a crossroad at the end of a failed project, and choices that are made is actually what determines where people go from there. Kathryn Minshew, the founder, and CEO of “THE MUSE” shared her experience about PYP Media – a website where Kathryn had invested all of her life savings. A power struggle over the company took over and she had lost all access to the website. She said and we quote “We could have sued, or we could have started over. We chose the latter.” Kathryn started brand new with her current cofounders, two of them who had left PYP Media to start The Muse, and ended up building a better product, stronger morals while raising over $2 million for the venture as well as reaching over 15 million people with their product.
Even Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple Inc. has said that the idea of death motivated him to never fear failure. The realization that life is temporary and could end at any given moment, failure seemed like a very small price to pay. He said and we quote “All fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” Apple was not a brand that was built overnight and Steve Jobs has had his fair share of multiple failures across his career is known to the world, yet it is the world’s top brand. His story is proof of how each failure is simply one step closer to success and Apple Inc is now labeled as the biggest tech company by Forbes.
Similar to Steve, Bill Gates also was a drop out from college and ended up building the empire of Microsoft as we know now. On multiple occasions, Gates has always mentioned the importance of learning from failure. Before his march towards success and enrollment at Harvard, he started his own company at the age of seventeen, named Traf-O-Data. The company was a computerized project that used a chip that could process and analyze traffic data, and even though the company was a failure at the time, he was able to use this experience and come build one of the biggest names in the tech industry. Microsoft itself wasn’t an overnight project either. Over the years Microsoft has also dealt with multiple failures one after the other, yet the company is standing strong with its brand name labeled as one of the best in the world. If there is anything to take away from the CEO of Microsoft, it is as he quotes “Once you embrace unpleasant news not as a negative but as evidence of a need for change, you aren’t defeated by it. You’re learning from it. It’s all in how you approach failures.”
Even the biggest names in the industry didn’t shy away from their struggles with failures and which is why all these great CEOs and entrepreneurs had their A-game straight. Some of the common tactics to fight off oncoming failures can be maneuvered into a synchronized music drop like the dramatic climax so that when the tempo comes on top again, it gets the whole orchestra into another level.
SOME HELPFUL DEFENSE PLANS TO REMEMBER WHEN HANDLING AN ORGANIZATION SO THAT EVEN IN THE WORST OF TIMES, YOU ARE WELL PREPARED TO TACKLE THE SITUATION HEAD-ON.
1. LEARN TO ACCEPT FAILURE
Sometimes it is hard to see things that you have worked so hard on collapsing right in front of you, but embracing it and finding another route is something we have seen again and again which results in a successful venture. The managing director of Harvard Innovation Labs, Jodi Goldstein said that one of the most important lessons she can teach her students is to fail gracefully. If the top Ivy League schools of the world can prepare their students in this manner, surely there is always something to take from a failed project and working around it with a positive attitude.
2. BUILD A SAFE ENVIRONMENT TO THRIVE IN
Companies don’t build themselves, and every single employee is an important part of the project when it comes to building something new. While great leaders take responsibility of their employee’s work, it is also important to have a working environment where the employees feel safe to work and thrive as the lungs of the company to build it stronger, make amends to mistakes and create an overall strong bond which is significant for a resilient foundation atop which to erect an unwavering empire.
3. AMEND YOUR PROBLEMS
Mistakes are inevitable when it comes to working for something, and while being on top is a privilege, do not leave room for someone else to clean up your mess. Being attentive, honest and hardworking pays off in the long run and that includes taking responsibility and working after your actions.
4. APOLOGIZE WHEN NEEDED
Extending to the last point, when it comes to managing a lot of people under one roof, mistakes are inevitable but one thing that may happen within the office shouldn’t reflect upon your clients and potential target market and therefore always remain on top of your game, and apologize fast where necessary because leaving things for assumption overtime will make people lose faith in your work as well as your morals.
5. LOOKING FORWARD
Sometimes the trauma of failure can work up a nightmare, yet it is important to know that there is nothing that can be done to what happened in the past. The ideal should be to guide the crew out of the sandstorm and plan for what is about to come next. Reminiscing on the past has its fair share of risks and as a leader blinds you to the opportunities in the competitive market. Moving on from trauma and looking forward to more prospects is the more empowering route for a successful leader.
However, when and if you are struggling to move forward from the failed project, these tactics and mantras that many great CEOs have shared over the years – which they have also used in their time of difficulties may be the guiding force you are seeking.
6. FIND OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN FAILURES
There is an abundance of quotes and articles that tells us to use failure as stepping stones, but the most important theme from the whole thing is that people are asking to keep a positive front. Failures are not the end of the world, rather an opportunity to do things differently, for something better. Unless a person can use this opportunity to move forward and build something newer and better, the project was already a lost cause.
7. RESEARCH ON YOUR REJECTION
Failing on a test is easier than hearing your teacher won’t take your exam. As humans, we were raised in a manner where rejection hurts our ego more than generalized failure, yet this is where many of us stand in the line of normal and superiors. While rejection makes some squirm and leave the room, others dig deep and try to find the reasons why they were rejected. They research, update and they come back into the room again, only this time they leave with a shiny medal in their hands as their prize. So always look into your faults because there is always room for improvement and building something even greater than you had previously thought of.
8. NEVER MAKE THINGS FORCED OR PERSONAL
While trying out for something new, it is not always easy to keep an open mind when rejections and failures are coming your way, however, emotional turmoil is the last thing you should keep in your mind when this happens. You need to get the negativity out of your system and keep an open mind to have the balance in your life steady, otherwise, your attacks will make you bottle up sadness, anger and result in painful anxiety hampering your stability with your loved ones. Instead, when faced with something difficult, you should remain more open and transparent to everyone about it so that there are fewer chances of you trying to reach an imaginary standard you have set up for yourself out of sheer pressure of filling in someone else’s shoes.
9. DO NOT DWELL
Just like food has a 3-second rule when it drops to the floor, dwelling on past mistakes for more than 24-hours is a complete no go. Some things have already happened and cannot be changed, so staying stuck in one place is not the doorway towards more opportunities. It might be the end of one chapter but it marks the beginning of a new one, so always keep your head forward and look for what is about to come.