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Friendly Failures & how to embrace them.

Updated: May 27, 2019



Failure. Nobody’s fallen in love with it, but many have come to embrace it. So that one critical presentation bombed and you’re definitely not getting a call back? If your company’s world is coming to an end as a result, then you’re not prone to growth - which is worse than failure. JA, failure is not a final destination!


James Frey, acclaimed author of ‘A Million Little Pieces’, was asked to shed some light on a person’s perception of failure on Elizabeth Day’s podcast. James let us in on his important belief that failure and success are not final-destinations. Both success and failure are simply processes that you continually associate with on a mental level. When you remove your ego from a process you no longer have to perceive it as either or; you can simply sit back and accept it as part of the journey. You practice failure the same you would success on your journey to accomplishing goals.


If you’re part of the rapidly expanding start-up sector that contributes to our economy, then you’ve probably been confronted with all the ways you could fail and disappoint those who rely on you. South Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit has gained attention world-wide as a force to be reckoned with.


It’s no secret that history has become obsessed with ‘overnight’ success stories, but we mustn’t deliberately look past the fact that success stories like Uber and Airbnb are still unfolding. In other instances people might choose to instead convert failure into fuel. At JA we’d like you to do yourself the favour of friendly failure.


The Allure of Failure


Suggest your superior in your organisation needs numbers and they’ve requested it to be delivered by the morning. You’ve got two options:


Option 1: Put your head down, research, execute and have your spreadsheet on their desk first thing tomorrow morning.


Option 2: Put your head down; research; research some more; double check & revisit references; get a second opinion; draw a comparison to last year; and deliver them to your boss two days later.


In today’s economy the speed of the execution counts far more than being faultless in your delivery - even though mistakes can’t be afforded. This means that if you decide on Option 1 that you’re likely the kind of employee that plays ‘Red Rover’ with failure in order to get acquainted with it. Repetitive failure, or the threat thereof, has both been embraced and reduced in understading the finer nuances often overlooked by those who steer clear of the risks involved. A culture that allows for friendly failures in a controlled environment enable employees to shape the way they go about their business. It is important to cultivate an environment where options are explored practically instead of over-theorising the complications of a task - ultimately leading to you falling behind in your delivery of tangible results.


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“Thinking of failure as a friendly favour to yourself creates an opportunity for innovative solutions.”

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Try and view failure as a weird friend - avoid equating it to either rock bottom or a dead-end - and you’ll start to cater for a growth mindset. Instead of swimming in dispair in the event of failure you can opt to instead walk away with a validated experience that assists you and provides references along the path to ‘success’.


‘Overnight’ success stories that have become household names weren’t solely built on doing extensive research, but also involved neatly packaging their hopes for the best. The moral here is that years of practising and embracing failure IS an option, a part of a process and not an eternal blemish on your name.

Kind regards, Anja Marais The JA Team www.ja-culture.com

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

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