Have you noticed that some people experience failure and continue to thrive and progress. While others face the same setbacks and struggle to recover?

It is as though some leaders just know how to fail better.

We know that failure is an inevitable part of any leaders journey. So the question must not be about if you fail, but how.

Here are seven observations I have made about people that fail better and seven questions I have learned to ask when navigating it myself:

1. They Accept It

They accept that failure is a normal part of the process.

It doesn’t surprise them when they fail. They understand that not everything you do will work out the way you expect and they are content with that. They aren’t afraid to take risks and try something that hasn’t been done. They accept that sometimes you win and other times you learn.

Question #1 – What am I afraid of that is stopping me from trying?

2. They Recognise It

They recognise when something isn’t working

This can be hard to see. When you are passionate about an idea you want it to work and you don’t want to give up too soon. As a result, it’s easy to spend more time and resources keeping something on life support that we should have let go of a long time ago. People who fail better know how to recognise something that needs to change before it is too late.

Question #2 – What isn’t working right now that I need to stop?

3. They Own It

They take responsibility for their part and take ownership of what needs to change.

People that fail better aren’t looking for someone to blame for something that goes wrong, even when it is easy to do. Even if the failure was out of their control, they take responsibility for their contribution. They know that you cannot change what you are unwilling to own. Ownership of a failure does not mean that you personally are a failure. It is about taking ownership of your actions not taking ownership of an identity.

Question #3 – What part did I play in this not working?

4. They Learn From It

They find every opportunity to learn & grow.

People that fail better treat failure like a teacher. They know there is a lesson to be learned and work hard to find it. When they learn, they apply the knowledge and grow. When something doesn’t work, they want to know why. Not so they can point fingers or pass the blame but so they can avoid making the same mistake. To make a mistake is ok. To make the same mistake is not.

Question #4 – What can I learn from this and how can I grow?

5. They Share It

They share their learning and experience with others.

It seems strange that you would want to promote your failure. But those who fail better don’t see it as promoting your failure, they see it as helping others avoid the same mistakes. They know that if they can help others avoid the same mistakes, they are contributing to the broader success of the organisation. By sharing their failures they know they are helping others move forward, faster.

Question #5 – What have I learned that can benefit others?

6. They Change It

They make the necessary adjustments to position them for success.

When something isn’t working, something needs to change. People who fail better learn from their experiences and make the necessary adjustments that are going to position them in a place for future success. Sometimes these adjustments are obvious and other times they need some input from those outside of the process. They aren’t intimidated by asking for help, they know that the best bet for success is tapping into the best of those around them.

Question #6 – What can I do different this time?

7. They Move Forward From It

They keep moving forward.

While others sit around wallowing in their failure, these leaders know how to keep moving forward. Failure becomes a part of the process not the conclusion of it. They understand that failure does not need to be final. This means letting go of the pain or frustration of the past event and stepping forward with the lessons and experience you have gained into the future opportunity.

Question #7 – What is stopping me from moving forward?

These are some of my observations from those leaders who seem to fail better. While failure is inevitable, I don’t believe this is about the pursuit of failure in order to achieve success. But rather the pursuit of growth which will inevitably include moments of failure. It’s what takes place in these moments that makes all the difference.

Failing is ok. But be the type of leader that fails better.