How Great Leaders Recover From Failure
Failure is a part of leadership. The process of failure can never be avoided. In fact, it is necessary for a leader’s success. Peter Gruber, the co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Dodgers and CEO of Mandalay Bay Entertainment, told the Colin Cowherd radio show on June 29, 2015, “You succeed and fail all the time. Actually you learn more from your failures than you do your success. Failure is an inevitable partner on the journey of success. And if you’re not failing sometimes you’re not seeing how good you can be or what you can do.”
All successful leaders fail. Even the most successful leaders crash and burn. They wipe out. Speaking of wiping out, one such leader is the best surfer in the world Nic Lamb. In February, Nic won the first the inaugural Titans of Mavericks big-wave competition in Half Moon Bay, Northern California (see video above).
In this competition, Lamb rode waves as high as 60 feet while gaining board speeds of approximately 50 MPH. When he fails, the results are usually painful and potentially tragic. Lamb was interviewed by Cowherd on May 27. These insights from his quotes on failure will make anyone a better leader.
1. To Compete at the Highest Level You Must Be Willing to Fail. “I love what I do. I love being in the ocean. I love competing at the highest level.”
2. Failure Is a Natural Part of Leadership. “I’ve been in the ocean since I was a kid so it’s natural to me.”
3. Failure Can Have Tragic Consequences. “Anytime (surfing) mavericks breaks it’s life and death.”
4. The Fear of Failure Is Real. “Mavericks sound like thunder and lightening when the waves crash…I’ve described it the other day as riding a roller coaster being chased by a saber-tooth tiger. You can feel the energy of the wave.”
5. You Will Fail. What Matters Most Is What Happens After You Fail. “We’re trying to balance on the ocean You’re going to fall at times. What matters is what you do after you fall.”
6. When You Fail, Remain Calm. “Hold your breath and just remain calm and trust in your training and know you’ll make it.”
7. When You Fail Do Not Panic. “Not panicking is key.”
8. Getting a Coach Helps You Avoid and Better Deal With Failure. “I train with Nick Curson (Founder/Trainer) at Speed of Sport. He’s arguably the best strength and conditioning coach on the market right now.”
9. Staying Focused on Your Goal Helps You Handle Failure. “I was so focused on winning the wipeout meant nothing to me. I took my licks and got right back on the horse.”
10. Pattern Recognition. Successfully Handling Failure Gives You the Experience to Recognize the Right Opportunities for Future Success. “I’ve been surfing my whole life and it comes with experience to know which waves to pick and which waves not to pick. Pattern recognition is a big one.”
11. Learning From Failure Makes You a Better Leader. “You’ve got to learn from those falls and come back stronger and hungrier.”
12. Pressing Through Failure Can Have Great Financial Rewards. “The best wave is whichever one pays the best.”
The following are five additional lessons and quotes from other great leaders on the subject of failure:
1. Failure Humbles Leaders. “The funny thing about golf is that once you miss an eight-footer that matters, it becomes a little bit easier to miss the next one. Even for Tiger Woods.” —Padraig Harrington, Sports Illustrated (SI) April 4, 2016
2. Failure Teaches Us the Value of Relationships. “There’s not a stat on notes made or notes failed or whatever. You kind of measure your success in the way you relate to people, that you can have the opportunity to perform with top players.” —Former New York Yankee and current musician Bernie Williams to SI
3. Failure Brings Accountability. “The Warriors players have created a rare culture of self-accountability in the NBA. The easiest thing for players to do is get someone else to pay for their failures.” —J.A. Adonde in this ESPN article
4. Failure Refocuses You on Your Process. “Some of those bumps along the way are like hitting a tree; losses are very tough, particularly ones that have more impact than others [at the end of the season]. They’re tough to work through, but you have to believe in the process and the talents of the people you work with. If you let outcome drive you, you’ll be all over the place and never develop the process to get to the final goal.” —former Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery told to Bill Barnwell in this Grantland interview
5. If You Fail You Will Have Another Chance. “We are human beings. When you miss a clear chance and I miss (all) six, of course I’m not going to be happy—but I’m calm because I had chances. When you don’t even have chances, that’s the difficult thing.” —Mexico soccer superstar Javier Hernandez, May 30 Sports Illustrated
What did you learn about failure that will make you a better leader?