How to Fail Eloquently

Mudassir is a consultant and trainer in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

Change is inevitable. The same can be said for failure, which is part and parcel of professional life. Failure is tough to handle and tougher to talk about, but an unfortunate reality. “Learn from your failure!” is what we usually hear, but it’s easier said than done. But take my word for it—it will come with a little effort and practice. Here, I want to discuss not why projects fail, but how we as project managers should react in the face of failure.

Defining Failure
“Failure” is one of those words that is rarely understood. It means different things to different people. My understanding keeps changing. Today when I fail, I clinically analyze the level of failure using a variety of parameters that I learned during my career on different jobs. Failure has a wide range of possibilities when it comes to a project, and it changes through various phases (of both your career and your projects).

It reminds me of when I complained to my first manager that our client hadn’t shelved the best possible product that we built for them. It was a complete failure for me because I couldn’t gauge what was expected. His answer was interesting: “Mudassir, they paid in full.” Again, failure is different for different people.

Handling Failure
We can’t stop impediments from coming our way in life; however, we can always …

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"Work is what you do for others . . . art is what you do for yourself."

- Stephen Sondheim

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