We live in a culture built on success, programmed to reach our targets and goals with specific timelines and strategies.  Failure on the other hand is not something we embrace but usually disregard, most often choosing to forget the experience.

When working with entrepreneurs and enterprise leaders, we embrace what didn’t work and choose to discuss the plan while making course corrections so that we may learn from our mistakes. Taking the time to review what didn’t work and why leads to a great discussion on how to implement change as part of every learning experience.

There is no doubt, at times, things will NOT go according to plan.  

Taking a critical review to discuss the things that did not yield the best results is a great way to brainstorm new ideas.

As an entrepreneur, I recall a time when one of our advertising campaigns did not produce the return on investment (ROI) that we had planned and many on our team considered it a failure.  Money and time lost with little or no results.  When we actually completed a critical review, we found that we had actually received a tremendous amount of exposure, launching a new revenue stream that was introduced to both clients and prospects that did eventually lead to increased sales. 

We had to change our mindset.

As a coach, I now work with clients to develop a process that provides a framework for critical review, embracing failure.

If we take a look at the soft skills defined by emotional intelligence (EQ) one of the core factors that apply is Decision Making which includes the following sub skills: 

Problem solving 
Reality testing and 
Impulse control

All of these skills are required when we begin to look at failure as an opportunity rather than a setback.

In fact, failure is a critical component when we consider the ultimate goal of success.  When we encounter a roadblock it creates a platform to brainstorm new ideas. When we involve team members and strategic partners in the discussion the outcome is usually better than the original plan.

Let’s take a look at each of the skills and how they contribute to the process and our ability to embrace failure.

Problem Solving
By definition this is a skill we use when we have to consider alternatives or find solutions to obstacles.  One of the characteristics or traits related to solving problems is flexibility. Solutions based thinking is a skill that usually involves connecting with members of our team or strategic partners for input on the “how” to best navigate a new plan. Creative problem solving sets a foundation for transforming a challenge or failure into an opportunity. 

Reality Testing 
Every plan must have realistic goals and objectives. Thinking “big” will create momentum but the execution of the plan must have various stages or steps to realize the goals.  We often use the SMART principle as a reality test. Is the plan Specific, Measurable, Attainable , Realistic and Timely? Applying this skill to a failure opens the door to creative solutions and keeps us grounded in the possibilities.

Impulse Control
By definition this skill would also include patience and confidence in the plan. There is a skill involved in knowing when to take action and when to stay the course.  When things don’t go according to plan give yourself permission to pause and reflect on the options before changing direction.

Just think of the long term benefits:

1) Increased employee/stakeholder engagement
2) Encourage creative, innovative, outside the box thinking
3) Confidence in risk management

Giving ourselves permission to celebrate our failures encourages resilience  and confidence in our ability to plan for calculated risk. 

When we reflect on the outcomes we usually find that we are in a better place than when we originally started. 

As a team, we now celebrate our failures because they take us one step closer to success.

Trish Tonaj is a Master Coach Practitioner, and Certifed EQ Coach, offering keynotes and workshops on how to amplify your business. Breaking barriers, start meaningful conversations and create a new definition for success… shareyourstories.online