Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Western Conference semifinals, the Los Angeles Lakers are in a win or go home situation. An 18-year-old named Kobe Bryant, who would later become a legend, was ready for his moment of greatness.
With the score tied at 89 points, the ball came into his hands to make the winning shot, which resulted in an airball, which sent the game into overtime. For those who are not very attached to basketball, an airball is basically not getting the ball to the rim—falling short. Fail.
With the game in overtime, Kobe made another three airballs, the last being the one that ended up giving the victory to their rivals.
“It was an early turning point for me, at 18 years old, it was gut-check time. I look back at it now with fond memories of it, but back then, it was misery. It helped shape me. As a young player, you often don’t see how a situation like that can pay off in the end. But if you use it to drive you, use it to motivate you, then you can stand where I’m standing now and look back at it with a lot of fond memories.”
Failure only makes your next shot quicker, easier and surer.
When the game ended, his then-coach Byron Scott said that Kobe had a face that said, “This will not happen again.” They returned to Los Angeles, and while his teammates went straight to vacation, Kobe got a gym where he could shoot all night. He knew that he wanted to be better than what the rest of the world had just witnessed, and he did not want to waste a single moment to start showing it in a new phase of his career.
That’s how legends become legends.
Why is Failing Good?
Failure cannot kill you, but fear of failure is what can deprive you of success.
And although it is not healthy to romanticize constant or systematic failures, the fact that things sometimes do not go as planned is perfectly fine.
Failing doesn’t mean that the ideas weren’t valid or that your dream isn’t good enough. Failure means that there is something that needs to be learned or a new direction to take.
Failure opens our eyes to new opportunities. Each failure is feedback and a chance to improve our craft.
You have to know that nothing works unless something is done, and you have to understand that the result you imagined may not happen exactly as you thought, but that is what makes the path between where we are and where we want to get.
Learning from Failure
In the business world, many executives believe that all failure is wrong (even if it can teach us) and that learning from it is relatively easy. In business, as in life, some failures are inevitable, and some are even good.
Despite the resistance to failure that an organization may have, the wisdom that comes from learning from them is undeniable.
Failure is not always bad, but learning from them during day-to-day business operations is not easy.
The attitudes and activities required to detect and analyze failures effectively are in short supply in most companies, and the need for context-specific learning strategies for each loss is underestimated.
Failure and guilt are virtually inseparable in most organizations and cultures. All children learn at some point that admitting failure means accepting the blame. That is why few organizations have moved to a culture where the rewards of learning from failure are encouraged and valued.
A detailed understanding of the causes and contexts of failure helps avoid the fear of guilt while promoting effective strategies for learning from failure.
Only leaders can create and reinforce a culture that counters the fear of guilt and makes people feel comfortable and responsible for emerging and learning from failure.
Business leadership must insist that their organizations develop a clear understanding of what happened, not “who did it” when things go wrong. This requires reporting small and significant flaws, analyzing them, and proactively seeking opportunities to experiment and grow from this experience.
Once a failure has been detected, it is essential to go beyond the obvious and superficial reasons to understand the root causes. This requires discipline and even enthusiasm to ensure that the proper lessons are learned, and the right solutions are applied. The job of company leaders is to ensure that their organizations move on after failure and discover the knowledge it contains.
In short, exceptional businesses are those that go beyond detecting and analyzing failures and attempting to experiment with the purpose of learning and innovating. It’s not that the managers of these organizations enjoy failure, but they recognize it as a necessary by-product of experimentation. These experiments or tests don’t have to be big-budget experiments; a small pilot, a trial of a new technique, or a simulation will often answer the questions.
Failure and Success
We always dream of success, but no one dreams of failure. But a change in this mindset is one of the most essential tools to transform failures into successes.
Failing doesn’t mean you haven’t worked hard; it simply means that you must take a new approach to achieve what you want.
Failures make you strong. Failure can bring you down, but it also helps you become a stronger person. If you read the stories of all the great personalities we admire, they all got where they are because of failure. If you’ve been defeated by failing, standing up and pushing more arduous is the best way to show that nothing can bring you down.
Failures give you a sense of direction. Failure creates a path for redirection. You get a sense of clarity on all the things you’ve been wrong about and how to take a better way to get where you want to be.
Failures teach us the value of things. Courage is one of the greatest lessons failures can teach us. While success could quickly get to our heads, failure keeps us humble with our feet on the ground. Failure teaches us to value all the right things in order to be successful.
Failures free us from fear. The fear of failure keeps us from exploring our options and stepping out of our comfort zones. Once it is accepted that one can be mistaken, there is nothing to fear. You stop being afraid of taking risks and finally get out of your comfort zone to make things happen.
Failures are an opportunity. Instead of focusing on the negative things that come with failure, focusing our energy on the positive things teaches us to be resilient and face all obstacles. Achieving success after failure shows us our mental strength and capabilities.
Failures add experiences to us. Success is not everything, and it can come as a result of many failures. Understanding that life brings us all kinds of failures and successes gives us the maturity to understand what is going on around us and how it makes us grow.
The success of failure: if you’re not falling, you’re not skiing
James Victore is a designer and design teacher, who in his book Feck Perfuction makes a perfect analogy between failure and success, exemplified by learning to ski:
“Skiers want to ski; they don’t want to fall. Falling is a big part of the ski learning curve, but mounting frustration and snow down on your ski pants does not lead to progress. I quickly learned that if I wanted to actually teach people to ski, I had to first help them deal with their feelings of failure when they fell.“
“We hate to fail. It makes us feel like we’ve done something wrong. But by putting yourself in a position to fail – on the ski slope or in your business – you’ve done something very right.”
Accept failures as part of our lives and how they teach us to become more assertive on our way to success. The journey from failure to success is not easy, but it is worth all your efforts.
At DNAMIC, experimentation and creativity are an essential part of our daily tasks. Denying our community of having the initiative and making mistakes in the process is not part of our DNA. If we want to encourage innovation, the fact of being able to have errors and failures is an integral part of that growth in our personal development and as a company.
Everybody always shows proudly their successful case studies, but sometimes, looking at your failed studies can teach you a lot more, and to your clients about your resilience and grit to bring to the world innovative solutions.
Let’s celebrate our failures, while don’t stop creating.