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Dealing with Failure

When you are early in your career, mentors have often told me “you should take risks” and “if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.” While I understand their advice, it is still really hard to fail for the perfectionists out there.

One of the best talks I’ve been to recently was Karen Evans from OMB addressing a number of young IT leaders on tips to succeed (the second speaker in the series is Renny Dipentima). A major point she made is that nobody teaches people how to deal with failure. And no matter how good you are, you are bound to fail at some point. Schedules slip, cost overruns occur, and we all occasionally say the wrong thing.

I agree 100% and it is a skill I’m working on. Management does not want to hear excuses and no one wants to hear the blame game. So how does one deal with failure? My best guess is the approach I used in my first job in high school when I got in a little trouble with a golf cart – confess the problem directly, say it won’t happen again, and most importantly learn from your mistakes and make sure it never happens again.

How have you dealt with set-backs and failure?

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