Friday, October 3, 2008

Failure as the Impetus for Success

“The more you fail, the more you succeed” (Kotelnikov, 2008). I personally believe that failure is the foundation to success and innovation. One never knows what genius lurks in the cloak of failure waiting to be unveiled. “Failure provides great learning opportunity and should be viewed as a very lifeblood of success” (Kotelnikov, 2008). Within an innovative organization, new ideas might sound crazy but “it takes a great many silly ideas to spawn one viable one, and the early stages there is no way of telling the silly idea from the stroke of genius” as they “both look equally impossible or equally brilliant” (Denning, 2005). Alfred Sloan the success maker of General Motors says, “life itself is a process of trial and error…and those people who make no mistakes are those who make nothing”. My husband and I had a successful contracting business for 11 years and as a result of many factors including hurricanes, structural damage, and dwindling liquid capital, our business went down in December of 2005. Many factors in this equation were out of our control but I take full responsibility for making poor choices, bad decisions, and having bad judgment which all equaled demise in the end. This was a huge personal and professional failure. These times of failure create defining moments that challenge us in deep ways and they “form, reveal, and test” us (Badaracco, 2003). These defining moments produce critical opportunities for self-inquiry that allow us to refocus our core values and principles, birthing a renewed sense of purpose, and crafts an authentic and strong identity based upon an understanding of our experiences and what is right (Badaracco, 2003). I learned so much from this experience about myself amidst this failure and how to approach future business. We now have another contracting business and it was from valuable lessons of past failures that we can have better judgment today and make more seasoned choices that produce better outcomes. Failure contains encapsulated lessons to be learned about myself, life, and business and creates opportunities to learn, change, and grow. It is difficult to make a comeback, but I would not trade the experience and lessons I have gained for easy success on any given day. It is through reflective efforts and vigilant scanning that I am able to move forward with confidence knowing that failure is vital to the learning process, the innovation process, and to personal and professional success.


Badaracco, J.L. (2003). The Discipline of Building Character. Chapter 19. Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass reader.
Denning, S. (2005). Transformational Innovation: A journey by narrative. Strategy & Leadership. Vol. 33, Iss. 3; p. 11.

Kotelnikov, V. (2008). Freedom to fail. The Highway to Success. Retrieved October 2, 2008 from

No comments: