Some people will do anything to avoid failing. Playing it safe can certainly help you avoid a big embarrassing failure but it also keeps you stuck in mediocrity and invisibility. Listening to a radio interview recently, I heard the phrase “extraordinarily ordinary.” The author being interviewed heard this phrase from a mentor of his who cautioned him that staying in a job that was not the right fit for him for too long could lead him to be “extraordinarily ordinary.” He encouraged him to continue pushing the envelope, exploring new areas, and taking risks. Taking that stance can be hugely rewarding and also exposes you to the possibility of failure.

We often write about being open to failure and the great lessons that can come from taking more risks and possibly failing in the process. This great Leadership Freak post shares ideas about what to do to recover from a failure. Many people run and hide when they fail, hoping no one notices — or they look to point blame or make excuses. As shared in the post, asking yourself the right questions, owning and being accountable for the failure, and taking action to learn from the mistake sets you on the right path toward your next win.

As a leader, you can create an environment for your team where failure is not seen as a punishable offense. Look for opportunities to:

  • Encourage risk taking
  • Acknowledge lessons learned and insights gained from missteps
  • Establish practices that allow thoughtful reflection and analysis of mistakes
  • Reinforce personal accountability
  • Limit blame
  • Promote collaboration
  • Set an expectation for positive critique and feedback for new ideas

What can you do to create an environment where you and your colleagues can push out of your comfort zone, leave extraordinary ordinariness behind, and take a chance on something you want that is big, bold, and important?
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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.

For support in letting go of your fear of failure (and recovering strongly if you do fail), contact Robyn at

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