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Fail Forward

Lesson 16 from: Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change

Beth Comstock

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Lesson Info

16. Fail Forward

Failures are often emotional and difficult to manage, yet success is impossible without failure; Beth explores the value in failure by “failing forward”. Learn an exercise to fail forward and strategies to approach failure as a team. Beth closes the course in summary and posits the question: are you ready to emerge?

Lesson Info

Fail Forward

I think this is the big issues I'm gonna end with this. Um, I think this is the challenge, Really. It's at the heart of what holds a lot of us back is failure. We're afraid of it. It's the F word, right? No one wants to fail, especially if you're a perfectionist or a recovering perfectionist. Failure just is not in our vocabulary. I told you that Culture Club I create I was part of that. We created I and the team held ourselves. Account will tell me something I don't want to hear. Well, they came back and said to me, One of the things they said was, You know, you talk about failure, but we don't want to fail and we don't want to fail for you because we feel will let you down and you're incredibly demanding and we need to tell you that and we need This is a bit of an intervention, but we have a solution. They said we're going to hold a convention of failure that they called Fail Con and I loved it. It was such a creative idea, and they said, and you're going to kick it off. So we're gon...

na have ah, video webcast with our whole team. Different parts of the country was the world. And you're going to start off by sharing a huge failure and then other people on the team. We're going to get on and share their failures, and we're gonna have this convention of failure. It was brilliant. I love that they came up with that, and so I had to start. Often I, too share of a company that we had invested in and partnered and launched a whole new business line that I backed and how it went bankrupt and how horrible I felt and how one I think a part about dealing with failure is you have to wallow in it. It's okay to feel bad to say this stinks to fear. You're gonna lose your job to maybe come close to losing your job as I told you earlier with the story I had, but there was something very cathartic, and I think it's a good practice to get into a regular routine off kind of an autopsy of your failures of going through the things that that didn't that didn't work. I mean, I know what it's like to have that stink of failure that follows you wherever you go. It's like people don't want to sit next to you like, Oh, that project didn't work well, she didn't because of her. We didn't make our numbers. People don't want it. They also want to look you in the eye because they think you haven't done something wrong. And yet you have to stand up there and go, Yeah, I didn't get it right this time and I hope for all of us. What we could do is sort of get this this position of kind of. It's a fail forward mindset and it's a It's an act of leadership, really. I think when you're trying to say when you failed, partly if you're going back to that three D budget and you're setting up that 20 or 10% lane so that you can have earlier failures and smaller failures before you're putting all your money into the really big ones. So you're setting up a system for allocating money and people in time, so you're testing and learning. So that is the first thing you're saying is one. What did I learn from this? Hopefully it's not a big, colossal bankruptcy kind of failure, but well, many of us will have those two. What did I learn? I'm convinced that this success for all of us in our careers and competitively in business is the speed toe learn. How fast can we learn how you're going to advance your business, your career? They're gonna beat the competition. What you gonna do differently next time? This is a great question to add to your repertoire of questions that you're asking. People went back to what we said earlier. How are we asking different questions? What will I do differently next time? What will you do differently next time? Rather than How could you? Kelsey? How could you mess up instead? Would you learn we're going to do differently next time. As a parent, I wish I had taken that tactic much more with my daughters when they were growing up. Um, what can we feel good about? I'd often take the team often when we were doing well in something and try to say OK, what almost went wrong? Same thing when you're in failing, like, what were the things that were good, like it wasn't all bad. We re totally idiots that did this to me. No, it couldn't possibly What? What worked? Then you get to that like Okay, what's that here? What's held us back for the reasons you know. So there's a bit of psychology and then I find often in these it's off. It's really helpful to have a source of inspiration. So for me, I love this some Samuel Beckett quote. It's just this simple. Like I say it to myself in those those times, especially this, you know, um, try again, Fail again, fail better. I mean, somebody who wants to get better that's a bit of an inspiration to me. Okay, Next time, just going to fail better you just start a little bit of, ah, psychology. Ah, psychology number on yourself. I could have called my book Fail forward because if you have a chance to read it, you'll see I shared a lot of these failure stories. I think it's important that we share these. I think if you have an opportunity in a family setting in a work setting, um, obviously need to talk about success, but I think it's important to say this didn't work And here's what we learned And what are we going to do differently? It shows the vulnerability as a leader to be able to say I failed. I don't know the answer. I didn't. I want this to happen this way. Can you help? Really? To me comes down to this. If failure is not an option, then how can success ever be? It really is this. This is again. I think what we need to challenge ourselves in our data driven world today, where we think we're always gonna have certainty in the answers. Do we have that laying for making the mistakes for testing for learning? And if you don't, then how are you ever going to be a successful as you need to bay? So was I wrap up here? I want Oh, I want to sort of challenge you to one more thing and then I'm going to wrap up. But I had a to fortune to work with, a really great leader. And he worked in a business that had been struggling for decades, hadn't been invested in, tried to be sold in the team, just felt like they were constantly failing and always coming from behind, and they had the opportunity to win a big contract with a big client, and he realized as a team leader he was leading. He was energized, but they felt maybe they were willing to take the risks. And how did they go forward on DSO? He did kind of a bad news bear team leadership exercise, and he said, uh, I want us all to have a fight song And he declared His fight song was Katy Perry's roar, which was very surprising. If you'd know him, you would never, ever picked, have imagined that would have been his fight song. And he said, I want us all to have a fight song and we're going to put it together And every time you'd walk into their lobby, their their team building, the fight song played, the playlist played and everybody could identify. They each had their own little story behind it, and what I loved about it is they went after this big client that for two decades they had failed to land and they want it. They took all that failure, they took the energy of generations before them and they said this is about leadership. So is our last exercise together. I'd like you to think about what? Your fight song. So in those moments of failure, those moments when you're like Oh, my gosh, I feel like a loser I can't do this anymore. What's your fight song? I'm not gonna make you sing it. Although we do have two microphones But what's your fight Song? So I will tell you when I, um I used to have this song I still love it. It's so silly But I loved Build me up, Buttercup, by the foundations I can sing a meat mean that main build me a better club cup in, um in Ah, karaoke. But that was my fight song for confidence. Build me up, Buttercup. It was just so silly. But I love that song. And in work I found Queen my inspiration. Right. I think you could pick just about any queen song. We're the champions. Might what? I'm blanking on my other one. Well, don't stop me now. I love that one as a fight song. Um So what is it? Are you going to share it with somebody when you go? When you go back to whatever you're doing. Do you have a fight song? Put it on your playlists. Maybe above playlist of fight songs for those times when you're feeling like Oh, my gosh, this project has just kicked my butt. I'm gonna fight back. Anyone want to share? The first thing that came to mind for me was I think it's jumble. Limbo is I get not getting it is Chumbawamba. You're right. That's a good one. I might add that to my playlist, too. It's much more profound than build me up. Buttercup. Buttercup, I think it has, like, two lines of lyrics, right? I get knocked down, I get up again. Don't you never gonna knock me down or what? Don't stop me now is like that too, right? Don't stop me now. Mine would have to be Eye of the tiger. I have the tire. That's a good one. Can you do? Do you know the lyrics to that? No. Yeah. That'll be your homework. We want you to go memorize the lyrics and, uh, tell us, you know, keep it in your head. Anyone else have When you want to share Jean, I think something that just forces movement is by LeMay by the Gypsy Kings. They may with that Yeah, good, good. That's very creative. I would have to be back in black, back in black. But it was also fun because every Winehouse Yes, yeah, I was thinking more a c d c. But on a different day Hey, hey, Cgc Yes, that's that's a good one way actually put together a playlist work in cybersecurity for threat hunting, a threat hunting mixtape on And it's all like eighties music to sling them hunting mixtape. That sounds all right. Well, hopefully a bit of inspiration. Ah, just to get out. And it's a great weight thing to do with your teams were in those moments of feeling like that were defeated. Um, you know, don't stop me now it's it's queen. So let me wrap up. Here's what I was been trying to say here. Some lessons learned. I emphasize story a lot. Story is a strategy. Is story a strategy strategies story. It's really that simple. And if you can't tell your story than maybe you don't have a good strategy, are you inviting in your critics as hard as it is, you're asking for help, especially from the people who are critical feedback. Seek it, use it if you're not, you really can't blame anybody but yourself in terms of being open for change being open. But there's also something critical about feedback. You have to have that good strategic filter that says, I accept this or this isn't relevant. Not every piece of feedback is going to be relevant. You get to choose you, give yourself permission to decide which piece of feedback is relevant and then this notion of failing forward. I really like re casting it as, ah, speed of learning, and I think that is a competitive edge in the world today. So let me end with this kind of thought. Hopefully, what you're taking away from our conversation today is a bit of ah, road map for leading yourself your teams. Your company's differently. To me, it's about leading with a good M O or really a good mind set orientation. It's about kind of being open to discovery, um, giving yourself permission to take risks. It's about building team trust. Think about it. We call ourselves often and work managers like I manage this team. I manage these people often When I meet a new person like, you know, tell me what you do. They'll tell me how many people they manage or their title, But we don't manage. People really don't control people. If we're fortunate enough. Were part of a team where we're encouraging one another. Decisions have to be made. Were inspiring, were coaching. We're asking our colleagues to figure it out. You're saying I need help? I don't know. You're here cause you're good. I have a vision is where I think we're going. Are you with me? Can you do it? You figure it out. I'm giving you room. I'm giving you permission. In fact, you better grab the permission to figure it out to make it happen. It's a new mindset orientation. And so if I have a last set of questions, it's really just it's just this I think away to summarize, you know, the Are you ready to emerge? Emerging times require people to adapt and emerge in different ways. So if you take that mindset orientation, Are you opening yourself up? Be able to give yourself that permission. Teoh give up control. Except that you don't really manage people. You inspire discover. Are you helping to lead a mission? Can you? Can you create vision that inspire word again? Coach? Encourage micro managers Just not welcome in this changing world today. We do not control what we think we dio. At best, we can control our our minds, our perspectives, the way we interact with each other. We can understand change. Are you experimenting, creating the feedback loops, the failure loops? And then finally, I think it's this defining notion of our time. Get comfortable with living in the in between, and it's to Kelsey's point. You have to optimize today, and you have to build tomorrow whether it's Ah, business and especially if it's your life. You got to do what you gotta do. But you have to plan for tomorrow because remember, tomorrow always comes and you have to believe it will be better, and you have the power to do so. So to me, this is the road map that we're all on, and if anyone wants to tell you otherwise, I defy them. It's this, and it's probably something even far more complicated than this, and it comes down to this for May. You don't just live a life. You blunder your way toward creating one you love. And so that's what I'm here to say. I think it's about summoning your imagination. Um, creative problem solving, giving yourself the permission, the courage, this little pieces of courage in your pocket to imagine it forward. This is me. I look forward to staying in touch and hopefully this gave you a few helpful tips and practical applications in a little bit of encouragement that you can you can sort of be creative, courageous and embrace change and make the future. So thank you for the time and thank you, Canna and the and the Creative Life Team. Thank you. Hopefully this was helpful.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Imagine It Forward Toolkit

Ratings and Reviews

Julie Hankes

Wow, this class was such a privilege to be a part of! There are so many gems in here, but what I loved most, is that she opened my thinking even bigger and offered me tricks and tips to facilitate that for myself and others long into the future. This is a tremendous gift as I'm already pretty outside of the box (i.e. I just took a client kayaking and then out in a seaplane yesterday for a visioning session) and creative in my work, so yes, what a gift! She also profoundly underscores the vital role the creative/imaginary mindset plays in the role of innovation and greeting our world's most wild challenges and opportunities. What a joy, have shared her work with many since this class took place. Thank you Beth for your courageous offering of imagination and championing it's vital role in our everyday work place and in our world's next steps into a more thriving, creative and innovative future!

Arthur Yakumo

I really enjoy this class. If you want a mind shift, having difficult seeing opportunities in front of you, especially living and working in a corporate job, this class is for you. Working for a fortune 500 job, I see how work is constantly changing, I didn't see the opportunities and how we can influence the change or be part of the change. This class helps you see and be part of the changing job revolution.

Christine Denker

If you want a mind shift to create change for yourself or your organization, then this class is a no-brainer! As a middle school English Language Arts teacher, I thought about how I could apply the concepts Beth teaches to my students who I have the privilege of interacting with daily. As a writer, I thought about how much I'm holding myself back and how I need to give myself permission to try new things knowing I'm going to fail and it's okay to do so. I really appreciated this course and had several takeaways that I can't wait to implement.

Student Work