What does failure mean to you?  Chances are the first thing you think of isn’t good.  Standard definitions of failure include omission of occurrence or performance” and “a lack of success”. Great twentieth failures include disasters like the space shuttle Challenger, Chernobyl and the Titanic. Lately, the expression “FAIL” has increasingly become the way to sum up almost any bad situation in a single syllable (an epic fail in my opinion).

In many corners of the business world, failure is not rewarded or encouraged.  Failure can be expensive and if not managed, can damage a company’s reputation.  It doesn’t support the short term, high performance expectations of the average publicly traded company.  Of course, if you are an above average organization; one that has established a reputation as an innovative leader, failure is likely a valuable and necessary component of your continued success.

To most people,  the name “Honda” probably suggests “cars”, but at it’s core, Honda is an engine company.  Their engines drive cars, motorcycles, lawn equipment, watercraft, and jets (yes jets).  They are also the only provider of engines to the Indy Racing League, but that honor was only achieved through some spectacular failures.  Honda is one of those innovative companies that understands the importance of failing and learning from it.  It’s baked into their culture.  This company-produced film gives us an open and honest look at some failures from Honda drivers, designers and engineers and how they draw upon failure to motivate them to succeed.

So,  do you view failure as an omission or an opportunity?

If I didn’t fall down from time to time I’d never learn” – Ki Theory: Holiday Heart


2 comments so far

  1. Jim Richardson on

    Failure to me is a very positive word. The first time I tried to walk, I failed, yet that failure forced me to keep trying until I mastered it. Some of the greatest inventors have had numerous “failures” between their fruitful projects. Failure helps us see the results of an action and thereby learn from it. Thomas Edison is an excellent example of this. He tried , and failed 1000 times, then succeeded in creating the light bulb. When asked , he said he didn’t fail but that the light bulb was an invention requiring 1000 steps. So, don’t call it failure. Call it a step, and use it to make the next step better.

  2. cns949 on

    Failure isn’t a bad thing as long as it doesn’t become repetative. What is bad is not trying in the first place.

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