Using Past Fails to Up Your Future Game

Brian is a passionate ICT executive specializing in complex program management, organizational leadership and flawless execution.

As I was growing up, my father was always very fond of repeating the quote "The man who never made a mistake, never made anything"—usually as a way of helping me get over how I was perceiving an error I had made in my homework or on an exam. Of course, at the time, this little pep talk didn’t help at all—and I continued to torture myself endlessly for the catastrophic mistakes that were unworthy of forgiveness, as I saw it (I was the poster child for Irish Catholic schoolboy drama in late-1970s Dublin).

Looking back now, it amazes me how powerful that quote actually is and how its applicability to business today is truly undeniable. I can see traces of it in the realm of innovative design, with use of the terms such as "fail forward fast," "rapid prototyping," "there is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences" and so on.

I have made it a habit to mentally review my own leadership and program management performance each year to see where I excelled, where I fell short and what I need to do to up my game going into the new year. This process helps to solidify and double-down on those performance traits that I wish to keep—those that are proving to be beneficial and producing the desired business objectives. Similarly, it allows time to reflect on the areas where further development and improvement …

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"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damned fool about it."

- W. C. Fields



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