“Failure is an event, never a person.”
~William Brown

Why is it that managing is, I hate to say, in some ways so similar to raising children, or training a pet. I mean no offense by this comment. I firmly believe that if we could see things in this way it might help us be even more effective at getting the best out of the people who work for us.

When our children make a mistake – when they forget to pick up their socks, when they don’t put their dishes in the sink, when they get caught up with their friends and don’t call to tell us they’ll be late – we see a mistake and an opportunity to teach and develop. Usually not an overall issue with them as a person. When our pets fail to listen – they go into the room we’ve made off-limits, they jump on visitors who come to our house – we give them the benefit of the doubt, redirect them, and love them anyway.

But when the people who work for us slip-up, miss something, or blunder in front of a client or customer we often jump to the final conclusion – they’re not cut out for the position, they don’t measure up, they’re simply wrong. We judge them, not their behavior. And we try and correct them, not their behavior.

When we can see failure in the people around us as simply an event – an occurrence that needs to be looked at and potentially discussed – rather than as a reflection of the people themselves, we can correct the events. We can focus on the fact that they need to stop inadvertently slamming down the phone, rather than the fact that they’re “too aggressive.” We can help them stop interrupting others, rather than dock them because they’re rude and disrespectful. We can see them as a whole person, and bring the best out of them.

When someone has “failed,” challenge yourself to see the person as a whole and the failure as an event … and then let this new perspective guide your action.

How do you see past “failure?”
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you want to see failure as an event, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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