Thoughts on Life & Leadership

A Junto Strategy Project

Do you learn more from success or failure?

This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. It also depends on what we’re really asking with that question.

While some research has been done by University of Colorado professor Vinit Desai seems to indicate that the answer is to the question is that we learn “more” from failure, I am not so sure. I will be the first to admit that pain and failure are great teachers, but the lessons learned from failure are too often one-dimensional by teaching us only what NOT to do or what we are NOT able to do. This learning by itself is incomplete. Only success can teach us what to do definitively. In failure, we can analyze what went wrong very clearly, but we are only able to make assumptions about what would have worked or led to success.

In sports an interesting phrase is used that goes something like: “This team needs to learn how to win.” As noted above, the problem is that you don’t learn how to win by losing more. At a certain point a team, a person, or an organizations has to experience success in order really learn the right behaviors and steps needed to succeed.

The better question (especially as organizational leaders) we should be asking is how do we best learn from BOTH success and failure? Answering that question opens up a whole new horizon of powerful lessons.

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This entry was posted on February 6, 2014 by in Leadership, Personal Reflections and tagged , , , , , , .

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