Who will let the dogs out?
When things fail – what do you focus on? Whose fault is it? What did I learn? Where do I go from here?
I woke up in my retreat rental on Lanakai beach in Kailua Hawaii and was just sitting down to a perfect breakfast of pineapple and mango I cut fresh that morning. Then I got a text message, the kind that I hate to get when traveling. Somewhere along the lines there was a hitch in my plan for taking care of my dogs. Normally I have a great system for while I travel and it’s no problem. This time – a mix up left me with a hole in my schedule starting… tonight!
I could have spent a lot of time working out who to blame, including finding ways to blame myself and the beating myself up for it. But instead I too a deep breath and focused on moving things forward. A few text messages and phone calls later everything was on track again. And I was on my way for a nice run and swim on the beach.
Failure happens. We don’t set out to fail, but it happens. When it does what you focus on is your choice.
- Whose fault is it? This is not usually a helpful place to start. Perhaps there is some learning there – but mostly this leads to the blame game. Figuring out who to pin things on just takes time – time sitting in the failure.
- What did I learn? A much more helpful question. This one is worth spending a little time on and usually leads to good insights. Careful not to subvert this back into blame like “I learned that it’s Joe’s fault”. Focus the learning on what you learned for next time.
- Where do I go from here? This is the sweet spot. The sooner you can get to this the better. No matter what has failed, you are going to go into the future. So focus on what you want that to be. Take what you learned and turn it into what you want to happen. Focusing on where you are going and getting into action makes all he difference.
In design thinking we need to be resilient to failure, accept it, move past it and keep going.
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” ~ Abraham Lincoln