Reframing Failure…one letter at a time

Posted on: September 23rd, 2016 by Clear Thinking Team No Comments

What do you think about failure? More to the point HOW do you think about failure?

As part of the HFMA Step Up webinar series we talked about resilience and included a memory hook to help the audience think about failure differently. We’d watched JK Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement Speech. She talks vividly about her experience of failure and how it shaped her success. That gave us some ideas about how we can all think about failure in new ways.

Failure is transformed when we start to think about it and experience it differently. See if this makes sense to you……


At work it can feel like success and failure is a binary concept.

Something is either good or bad.

Right or wrong.

A success or a failure.

Binary thinking like this can make it difficult to embrace any of the above. We’ve noticed this when we’ve looked to create the right conditions for people to experiment and free up their thinking.

When we’re used to looking for the ‘one right answer’ it takes time to be comfortable enough to embrace a more pacey, fluid, trial and error approach as a fast track to a solution. It’s a challenge, but when it works it’s been an empowering experience for the people involved AND it’s created some impressive results.

I like what Seth Godin says about failing: “Genius is actually the eventual public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem. Sometimes we fail in public, often we fail in private, but people who are doing creative work are constantly failing.”

How do you handle failure? What advice do you give to others about how to handle it?

If you’re an HFMA member you can access the webinar series through this link which takes you to the On Demand Webinar area of their website.








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