Celebrating. Success, failure or both?

successA few weeks back I read this quote from Brene Brown book “Dare to lead”: “We’ve got to stop every once in a while and celebrate one another and our team victories, no matter how small. Yes, there’s more work to be done, and things could go sideways in an hour, but that will never take away from the fact that we need to celebrate an accomplishment right now.” I agree. Especially in situations where we do not have big deadlines, milestones or something else that feels naturally like the ‘end’, we tend to forget to celebrate our excellent results. But if we do not celebrate, where should the feeling of achievement come from?

However, an even more important topic is to celebrate failures. I am not kidding here. Bill Gates once stated: “Success is a lousy teacher.” If people in your company do not feel free to explore and fail, how can they possibly do innovation? How can they do more than ‘sure thing’ that never leads to better than medium results? How can they learn and grow?

For me personally failure is hard. Because I expect a lot from myself and I want to achieve everything quickly. Those things are in my nature. So it has been a long road to learn to accept my own failures and even embrace them. However, when I look back to my life, failures (and brave changes) have always been the things that have made good impact. Made me a better and smarter person and made my life happier. Then why do we still feel ashamed or bad about it when it happens? If you look at public presentations, then quite often it is so that failure stories are much more inspiring than success stories. So again, why are we afraid of failure? Do we not believe in ourselves (and our team) that we can get up and keep going?

In our company we have started to talk about failures out loud (for example do failure pitches where each team shares their story). If you do not talk about it, it won’t be part of the culture that it is OK to experiment. People get stressed if they feel that others have perfect life or jobs. Social media does not help with that image either – we only see other companies with always laughing employees and 10 year marriage anniversaries, but we do not see what is behind it. To laugh and feel satisfied, you need to come out of your comfort zone every once in a while and that is never easy. So I dare you – go out there and forget the fear of failure, just explore, try, learn, celebrate and keep going!

After all, aren’t success and failure the same thing? If you learn from failure and through that you can be successful, then we never fail. Weird thought, isn’t it? About two years ago I changed my mindset. When difficult things happened (breaking up, death and car crash – everything in one week), I made a decision – I stop feeling sorry for myself. Instead I learn from it and become a better version of me. I chose to live and that decision literally changed my life and gave me a feeling that I have never failed. I have only learned and become more successful through that.

In conclusion, failure is part of success – always share and celebrate it. The only real failure is if we stop trying / learning / experimenting!


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