Lessons of Failure


We are all going to make mistakes. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow we will probably do or say something or conversely fail to do or say something that we wish we could take back. The classic desire for a “do over.”

However, it is how we handle that failure which truly defines us as business women.

Beth Cross is the founder and CEO of Ariat International was interviewed by Stanford Business shares a bad decision she made in business:

There are no do-overs. There is so much on-the-job training when you build a business. Every day, there seems to be at least one decision or discussion, large or small, that in hindsight I would love the opportunity to rethink or redo. I’m reminded of a decision I pushed for to make an inventory purchase of a new product that I thought would be terrific — but our buying team was very skeptical. I thought it was a great opportunity and convinced everyone we should go for it. Well, of course the product was a flop, and we were stuck with the inventory. My team teased me about it for a long time, and I learned to not interfere with the collective wisdom of an experienced team! You have to own your bad decisions, and in doing so you reinforce a culture that celebrates success and learns from failure.

i love that – “own your bad decisions.” No finger pointing or ducking the facts, just stand up in the face of your mistake and own it.

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Plancast founder Mark Hendrickson shares his views on the business failures his company experienced in the Entrepreneur mag interview. He has this to say:

I think the most important lesson here is that we should have tackled these problems more head-on through particular design changes rather than hoping the positive aspects of our product would simply outweigh the negative ones.

So stand up and face failure head-on. No shirking here.

But the best advice comes again from the interview with Beth Cross:

We have small, medium, and big failures all the time. The question is: How do you handle failure when it happens? How do you handle it with your customers, your team, your shareholders? A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t do the right thing, fix it as quickly as you can, own it, and learn from it.

Face it – Own it – Fix it!

So what is the biggest lesson we can learn from our failures? What is the old saying…”you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” You are going to make bad decisions. We all do. It is how you handle them that matters.

Own them, apologize if necessary and then make it right.

Want to feel better about the mistakes you’ve made? You might be Interested in reading about some of the biggest blunders in business history.  Trust me, it will make you feel better.  Check out this article from INC mag. 8 of the Biggest Business Mistakes. 

jj digeronimo

JJ DiGeronimo, the President of Tech Savvy Women, advanced from entry-level positions into leadership positions within technology companies. Through her keynotes and executive sessions, JJ shares effective leadership and inclusion strategies to retain, develop and advance professional women. JJ includes these experiences in her book new book “Accelerate Your Impact” which complements her 2011 book, “The Working Woman’s GPS.”  JJ has been quoted in numerous publications including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox Business.  She now shares her women in business expertise with Amazon, Ingram Micro, RIT, IBM, Clemson University, Symantec, VMware, Discover, KeyBank, and Cisco along with many other organizations.

Share This Post


More to Explore

JJ DiGeronimo

JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

Free Tools for High-Impact Women


Let's Connect

Connect with me on social or join 3,000+ other women by joining the Tech Savvy Women (TSW) LinkedIn Group.