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3-Steps for How to Respond to Failure

October 9th, 2007 · 13 Comments

For a leader, this is critical: when you get knocked down or otherwise lose your standing, get back up and try again.

Leadership quote from John Wanamaker:
“No mistake or failure is as bad as to stop and not try again.”

One of the most important differentiators between leaders and those who do not lead is the response to set-backs, or, what others call, failures.

1. Learn from the experience.

The entire point of “experience” is that you gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from it. Employers often measure prospective employees on their experience – what thr have done. The experience demonstrates, that since you have done, are capable of doing again, and capable of doing better.

2. Share what you learn from the experience.

A lot about leadership is sharing your knowledge and experience; otherwise known as mentoring. Your experience and, more specifically, how you grow from your experience, define you. Sharing your experience provides a conduit to influence others. One of the strongest ways to influence others is through what you learn from your experiences.

3. Write and codify how you would keep from failing if you were able to do it again.

Do not spend a lot of time in contemplation about the past, because it is not wise to dwell on history and keep from moving toward the future. However, if you don’t learn from history, you will repeat it. One of the simplest and most powerful methods to learn from your experience is to write out how you would deal with it if you were to repeat it. The act of writing it out places the lesson in your mind for when you encounter a situation or problem that is similar to it. Your writing becomes a plan for dealing with those situations.

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Tags: Codify It · Failure · John Wanamaker · Planning · To Do

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Responding to Failure | the art of leading // Oct 13, 2007 at 10:17 am

    […] 3 Steps for How to Respond to Failure […]

  • 2 grammarpolice // Oct 21, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Nice ideas- but your writing is full of mistakes. I was going to list them but they are so numerous it would take me a while. For example, the word you want is “lose” not “loose”, which is not a verb. “Differentiator” should be plural. Would you say “One of my friend says….” or “One of my friends” etc etc etc.

  • 3 Jon // Oct 21, 2007 at 2:30 pm


    Ah, thank you for the critique. I have always known that I make grammar and spelling mistakes, but I do try to mitigate them in stride. I remember a story about an English teacher who received the national teacher’s award from President Ronald Reagan. Along with the award, the President gave this teacher a poem about teachers; it was hand written by the President himself and the first thing the teacher noticed was a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes! It goes to show that someone can have flaws and still be effective as a leader. (FYI, John F. Kennedy was also known to frequently make spelling mistakes.)

    I know that I need to spend time proofreading what I write, but sometimes I get busy and don’t put forth the extra effort. I do make mistakes and, like a lot of others, I rely too much on the “spell checker” in Word. I will make certain to improve the method that I use for writing to include good proofreading. Thank you again.

    Jonathan Frye

  • 4 benson ngambo // Nov 20, 2007 at 4:39 am

    am blessed send me more teachings

  • 5 Write it out! - Reason-4-Smile’s Weblog - When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. // Nov 20, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    […] Jonathan Frye (3-Steps for How to Respond to Failure @ LeadershipJot.com) […]

  • 6 Achieve Success in a New Year // Jan 5, 2008 at 8:27 am

    […] wrote an article on October 9th titled 3 Steps for How to Respond to Failure. The article has been widely read for the topic (and the 2nd most popular page on this blog). […]

  • 7 Ron // Jan 8, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Thanks for good information. So many times we just shutdown and struggle to learn from the experience.

  • 8 Committing to not Fail and Learning to Succeed // Jan 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    […] One of the more popular pages on this blog is the article I wrote “3 Step for How to Respond to Failure.” […]

  • 9 The Genius Power and Magic of Action // Jan 10, 2008 at 8:03 am

    […] Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Even if things don’t work out quite as you expect, you can still gain a great deal from experience and always remember the 3 Steps for How to Respond to Failure. […]

  • 10 What I learn from messing up with mashing up | Reason-4-Smile Weblog // May 15, 2008 at 6:50 am

    […] tips: Jonathan Frye from Leadership Jot shared an article on how to respond to […]

  • 11 Achievement is Connected with Action // May 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    […] that leads toward achievement and the more you will achieve. When you make mistakes, remember the 3 Steps for How to Respond to Failure. Also, keep in mind that “action” is an important part of leadership – Formula for Successful […]

  • 12 Quote about Failure from Robert Kennedy and the Day of his Assassination // Jun 5, 2008 at 10:49 am

    […] 3-Steps for How to Respond to Failure […]

  • 13 Respond to Failure and Failures of the Presidents // Nov 4, 2008 at 10:25 am

    […] In the end, I guess I’m writing this to encourage all leaders, the next president included, that while a failure may be in the cards, failure doesn’t have to define you. It matters what other actions you take as well – how you respond to failure. […]

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