what is your relationship with failure

Our Ongoing Relationship With Failure


I have been conducting expert interviews with The Today’s Leader Podcast since Episode 188 and in that time have interviewed just under 100 expert guests. Every guest I ask, What is their relationship with failure. They have all provided amazing insights into what they do and how leaders can grow to become one of tomorrow’s best leaders. That’s our aim with the podcast. To bring growth and actionable insight into ambitious and emerging leaders.

relationship with failure

While each guest brings their own unique insight into leadership development, and it’s my role as host to bring that side to light, I also ask a range of generic questions to help provide new insights on age-old issues. One of these areas is FAILURE.

Why is Dealing with Failure Critical for Leaders

Failure is a part of life. It’s something that everyone experiences, and it’s something that we need to learn to live with. We learn from our failures, and we can learn to become better people because of them. We need to be willing to try new things, and we need to be open-minded enough not to give up when things don’t go our way. We also need to be honest with ourselves and others about our failures, so that we can learn from them and move on.

Our capacity to have a relationship with failure is critical. I have known many people who respond to failure in ways that ultimately deliver more failure. I have known people that stop at failure. They quit, they stop and they surrender to it. They consign that attempt to the bin and never return to learn from it. “It didn’t work” you hear them say.

Additionally, others have an immense fear of failure and this fear stops them from even attempting something. Getting the chance to review and reflect on our journey, and if our fear of failure has kept us bound, then clearly our reflection will be disappointing as well.

Simple Facts About Failing

For everything written about failure, you may have built up a perception around it. That some people embrace it and others look for it. There is a semblance of truth in these perceptions.

Some people do embrace failure, but it is usually in hindsight when they have learned from that stumble to improve the project they wish to succeed in. What I have found, is that people do not start any objectives with the belief they will fail. Everyone wants to succeed, but along the journey, we may experience stumbles and hiccups, which we learn from to build a more resilient and structured process for our future success.

Our Relationship with Failure

Every guest on the podcast, is asked, “What is your relationship with failure” Their answers provide great depth for leaders everywhere. Some of the responses have started along these lines.

“oh, we are tight”

“we are bed buddies”

“we are close friends…. and enemies”

“failure was my piggyback to success”

“we are close friends”

“we are lifelong partners”

The insights shared by our guests contain a common element. A successful journey will incorporate many ups and downs and along the way, it’s our relationship with failure that will prove to be the foundation. Because every step forward, comes with the benefit of our trials. Failure becomes a partner in our success. It is the experiences we accumulate, it is the insights we gather. It is needed as much as these actions we take to commence the journey. Failure, and the threat of it, are constant shadows if we set out to achieve anything worthwhile. It is part of the journey.

At the same time, we have leaders that never see failure. They do not see it in their mind and they shrug off any mishaps along the way. Some never see it, sense it, or feel the pressure of it. Failure in this style of leadership doesn’t exist in their mind,m but in reality, they have stilled themselves to overcome it. The learnings and the mistakes still happen, they continually move forward and often they don’t take the opportunity to appreciate and learn from it.

It’s imperative that you build your own relationship with failure process, one that is constructive and appreciative of its existence. It’s what we take and learn from our errors, and mistakes that truly set us up for the life we need.


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