Thoughts on Leadership: How to Turn Failure into Success

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career; I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over in my life. And that's why I succeed."-Michael Jordan, 2006

Failure. We all experience it. Most of us see failure as a negative thing, which makes sense; it doesn't feel good to fail. We all want to succeed and failure feels like a setback to that goal. What we don’t realize is that failure presents an opportunity to learn, grow and succeed. Check out Michael Jordan’s "Failure" Nike Commercial.

Michael Jordan is a fun example to look at. When most people think about this basketball legend, they're not immediately thinking about how he didn't make the varsity basketball team his sophomore year in high school. They're not thinking about the times he lost the game-winning shot. They're thinking about his achievements: six-time NBA champion, five-time MBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

Michal Jordan's success was real. People like to say that he was born a "gifted" basketball player, that Mark Zuckerburg was born a technology genius, and that Martin Luther King was a born leader. What we fail to realize, though, is that none of these successes were born that way. No one is born to play basketball, create a social media phenomenon, or to be a legendary leader.

Turning failure into success is hard work. It takes dedication and vision. When I was a brand new realtor my first coach Tom Hopkins taught me an important philosophy on failure and rejection that has resonated throughout my entire real estate career. He said “I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience. I never see failure as failure, but only as the feedback I need to change course in my direction. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to improve my sense of humor. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance. I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win!”

Learn from some of the greatest champions on earth how to take the reigns and turn losses into wins – adapted from Adam Appleson's book, "7 Steps to Turn 'Failure' Into Success:"

  1. Grin and bear it. When Michael Jordan came across rejection, he met it by practicing more.
  2. Take a time-out. The greatest ideas were founded when men and women were away from their usual routines. Albert Einstein was on vacation in the Apennine Mountains when we wondered what would happen if a ray of light became imprisoned.
  3. Assess whether your current plans are realistic. If things aren't happening as fast as you'd anticipated, by the deadline you set for yourself, the deadline may not have been realistic. Don't be afraid to make new plans and pursue them.
  4. Get support. Have a team behind you to get you through the rough times and keep you motivated!
  5. Play a game called “15 Ways…” Grab a sheet of paper and brainstorm 15 ways you can overcome whatever obstacle is standing between you and your goals. The first five are usually pretty obvious, but the last 10 are usually a bit harder to come up with, and often surface the innovative solutions you hadn't thought about already.
  6. Pick a hero. Every time you fail and want to give up, ask yourself what your hero would do, then go do it!
  7. Go out and execute every day. Commit to doing one thing for your dreams every day. You know the saying, “genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

True leaders do not fear failure; they know how to use failure to their advantage. Like Michael Jordan said, he has failed over and over again, and that is why he succeeds. Take chances and don’t be afraid to fail, it could be the secret to your success!