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Fail Tales, a storytelling event celebrating failure, is coming up next week on July 26! Our speakers, @Matt Doar, @Anita Kalmane, @Ashley Faus will share three vulnerable stories about managing failure.
We asked our speakers to answer a few questions to get us thinking about failure and how it can help us become more resilient, and to get us excited for the event!
I'm pretty cautious by nature. I really don't like to fail, though it became easier as I became more experienced. That sounds backwards - surely it should be easier to fail when I'm new at something? So perhaps instead it's an age-related thing.
After many years of working with Atlassian and other tools, I'm ok with things sometimes not working out as I expected. It happens.
I might be seeing failure differently than most people... When a task isn't completed as expected or the result doesn't work out as planned - I'd still take that as a learning opportunity, and any time when you can learn, you don't fail. I've had quite a few of those learning opportunities when the outcome wasn't as expected, but I don't consider them failures.
Failure itself for me is more about letting people down and not keeping your promises. You fail yourself, in a way. And you fail others.
I'm a marketer, writer, and speaker by day, and a singer, actor, and fitness fiend by night. To me, failure means that I didn't hit the goals I laid out. That could mean hard metrics, like entrances to a website, or soft metrics, like having the right attitude or mindset about something.
I fail often at work because I try to chase ambitious goals. Sometimes we launch a new piece of content and it actually fails to launch! Other times, I find myself reacting to situations in a way that I don't want to react: with negativity, stress, or feeling overwhelmed.
I'll be talking about an experience recently where things certainly didn't work out as expected. It's not the only time though, and I've learned that it's not always about me and my actions.
I recall a full-day team event for 10 people, which I planned together with a colleague. We spent several hours creating the agenda, sent people a few questions in advance as homework to do and were really hoping to get the most out of it.
Turns out... Not everybody reads their Google Calendar invite texts, so some people didn't realise there is homework and some others needed to leave before the end of the session (which was one of the most important ones, as we were coming up with action points for the future)!
My own learning - know your audience and overcommunicate! Better send the same information 3x in 3 different ways, than risk people not being properly prepared.
The biggest thing I've learned is to remember that there's almost always a second chance. You can't always achieve everything on the first try. And maybe your goals were flawed from the beginning! The biggest key is to take a step back to reflect on the ENTIRE journey, not just the final outcome that you considered to be a failure.
Oh, yes! I'm lucky enough to work at a company that takes "zero blame" seriously. It's great to see when someone makes a mistake, and the team huddles down to support them and understand how we can avoid the problem happening again. There's less fear and more progress. At least the first few times 😉 But it does take real management support.
I want to say 'celebrate them', but I'm also concerned it'd just create more failures.
So I'll say - embrace them! Don't punish those who failed, but look at why it happened, do root cause analyses and improve your processes non-stop.
Each failure should be seen as a learning opportunity for the future, so next time you'd fail somewhere else.
Run blameless retros! And this is not just about retros for the team, it's about retros for your own work and your own goals. What could have been improved in your mindset, knowledge, resources, etc. to make it less likely to fail in the future?
Thanks to our speakers for these thoughtful answers. Don't miss Fail Tales next Tuesday at 10am PT. RSVP below: