Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Failure has always been a better teacher than success.

Failure promptly resets our perspective, making us aware of the need for change and the pursuit of knowledge necessary to implement it. Overwhelming our natural risk aversion, it opens our minds to ideas we’ve never considered or have previously rejected.  Seeking understanding, we dampen our hubris and humbly tap our relationships in search of a broader array of input and a deeper appreciation about what was learned from our mistake. Humility may be the most important lesson taught by a failed experience; reminded of our human fallibility, we are compelled to reassess our values and summon our courage.

Because failure teaches so much, it should not be feared. No one can anticipate every possibility, control every variable or envision every outcome. Few plans unfold as expected. All great wins or revelations have been delivered by leveraging insights from prior mistakes.

What delivers success from possible failure is anticipating unforeseen challenges when an initiative is launched, communicating this possibility to key stakeholders at the start, and promptly adapting when the inevitable obstacles arise. Barriers must be breached to facilitate change, achieve goals and earn success; this takes more than good intentions and a thorough grasp of expected benefits. It takes discretionary effort, going beyond the anticipated investment of energy, resources and time to persevere through trials and constraints.

Sustaining discretionary effort requires inspiration, derived from the realization about how achieving a goal will make a difference…for the target audience of the initiative, for the team pursuing its results and for the organization. Inspiring discretionary effort is the job of leaders.

How do you inspire discretionary effort?
Why is discretionary effort essential for success?