You learn about yourself, and others, when you fail and you succeed

Failure and success.  When you think of life it will sometimes boil down to these two words.  Did you succeed?  Did you fail?  Why?  How?

Failure and success are very important issues and failure is something I know well personally and have written about often.  I have written about leaders and failure and have also written about the “true value” in failure.  Another time I referred to failure as the “breakfast of champions” and still again I talked about failure, experience and the value of understanding how to process these things.

Failure is a great teacher, but I think you also learn much about yourself and others based on how they handle success.  That may sound a little strange, but I think success helps you see your true colors as well as the true feelings and behavior of others.  Let me take a few paragraphs to say why.

Sporting events can be great teachers when it comes down to handling victory and defeat.  Tell me how many times you see a great athlete give thanks to his team, his family or his God when he/she experiences a great victory?  I see it occasionally, but in many cases I see people with obnoxious behavior, proud behavior that belittles the accomplishment.  In addition, those who are on the losing end feel devalued and remember how they were treated when they were on the losing end.  It makes me cringe when I see athletes at all levels dance and make motions and gyrations on the field when they make a good play or score.  Just move on.

We see some of the same things in the workplace.  Instead of “spiking the ball” in the office we may walk around with a superior attitude, ignore and humiliate others and adopt behaviors that are smug and rude when we win or succeed.  Don’t misunderstand me here.  Winning and success are important.  I am not a product of the “give every child a trophy” generation.  I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s where we got something when we won, and learned hard lessons when we lost.

What guidelines might you adopt when you win or succeed?  Here are a few I would suggest:

  • smile broadly, but do so when you thank others who helped make the success possible
  • enjoy a period of celebration, then move on
  • complement those who didn’t succeed in some way-give them something to build on
  • remind yourself how you have felt when others succeeded and you didn’t-have empathy
  • make the victory platform as large as possible

Success is a great thing and we all need and want to be successful.  Life is short, so spend less time working on your victory dance and more time working on your group hug.  Embrace others when you succeed and work hard to make more of those around you successful.

Successful teams have many strong components and you need to make your success a bonding event and not one that promotes division.

You learn a lot about yourself, and others, when success occurs.