If someone asks me what has been the most rewarding aspect of my career, I have to generalize. There are so many little victories I am proud of. As an engineer, I worked many hours on new equipment to get it working just right, and then to have it outperforming the design expectations. As a team leader, one of my biggest compliments came from a peer who noticed how my team worked so much better than it had before I led it. As an HR generalist, there have been dozens of great hires, some effective interventions of sorts, and contract changes that made things better for all concerned.
So I generalize and say that the most rewarding thing is when my ideas or my influence help create a better business result. Because, ultimately, that’s what I get paid for.
But I fail sometimes. I miss a deadline, I fall short of the expectations placed before me, or I just am overwhelmed enough to forget something that needed to be done by yesterday.
In workplace safety, failure can be tragic. So when it occurs, we stop, take full account of the situation, and identify each and every event that may have led to the failure. We try and then eliminate those events from happening again, but not by making new rules. We change the systems and processes, because adding more rules will only make things more complicated.
I take that same approach to my failures at work. They deserve a careful analysis. What was the failure, what were the primary causes, and what were any contributing factors? What are the underlying factors? If “being tired” was a cause, then what is keeping me from getting adequate sleep?
Peel the onion, get to the root of the problem. Our deepest failures will often have the answers to our future best achievements.
We can have excuses, or we can have health, love, longevity, understanding, adventure, money, happiness. We design our lives through the power of our choices. We feel most helpless when we’ve made choices by default, when we haven’t designed our lives on our own. – Richard Bach, One
Don’t dwell on failures. But don’t ignore them. Inside each one is an opportunity to make new choices, to design better outcomes for our lives.