Posts Tagged ‘failure’

Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner (Part I: Peter the Plumber)

Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner (Part I: Peter the Plumber)

The concept of failure is an important tool for success, where failure is simply part of the equation. Learning to embrace failure asks many questions of us: what is it? How do we define it? How are we defined by it? And most importantly, what do we do with it?

The idea of failure is a difficult concept for most, a vague intangible that is as different as the person destined to interpret this challenging concept. Why one may ask? Fear is often the reason that many are so afraid of failure. The idea of failure is a challenge, as is the very word itself, where this word is at the top of a list of words mostly likely to make those hearing them uncomfortable, almost instantaneously.


As we begin our journey into looking at this idea of failure, let us begin by looking at the function of failure, perhaps then we can look at why this idea has earned such a negative reputation. To explain, let’s meet Peter. Peter is a plumber with more than 20 years experience in plumbing, certified in all areas of plumbing problems.

Now, let’s dig deeper as to why one hires a plumber exactly. One might think we would hire Peter to fix our sink, right? Not quite.

We are looking for what I call “outcome based thinking” where we are willing to exchange money for the services of a plumber to fix our plumbing situation or outcome. This outcome is not quite exactly what we are paying Peter for however. Instead, we are paying for Peter’s failure.

Stop. Take a breath and let me say that again.

We are paying for all the times that Peter the Plumber has failed in the past to fix our particular plumbing problem today. What we are really paying Peter for is his experience to fix our plumbing crisis, this time, the first time, the right way. For Peter to maximize his efficiency and the ability to make money—it is ideal that he would want to fail faster to succeed sooner—and ultimately make more profits.

While many of us are astounded that for a mere 15 minutes, our trusty Peter the Plumber may charge $100 or more, there is much more at work here. What we do not understand, is that we are not paying Peter for his 15 or 30 minutes that he is spending in our home. Instead, what we are paying him for is for his education and experience failing before he ever arrived. However long it may have taken him, we are paying Peter for his education in how not to fix our plumbing, so that this time, he will fix our problem the right way.

The quicker Peter failed (Translation: learned how not to fix something), the sooner he succeeded—and learned. Hopefully, Peter continues to learn to embrace the concept of failure to learn to be more efficient, more effective, and exceptional in what he does as he moves forward with his career.

Efficient, Effective, and Exceptional

To review, Peter failed faster, so he could succeed sooner to become more

  • Efficient
  • Effective and
  • Exceptional

This idea that there is success in failure quite frankly instills fear in the hearts of most managers (note I did not say leaders). Failure is not something society embraces. Nor does society find this concept even in the realm of exceptional. If anything, it is quite the contrary—at the other extreme, where to quote a favorite cliché—failure is not an option.

For those who are Type A personalities, the idea—the concept—the very word failure, does not exist in their vocabulary. These personalities will find every synonym available to avoid saying this ‘f’ word. Some cannot even form the word itself: F-A-I-L-U-R-E. Come on-say it with me. Failure must be possible for success to happen. Learning to fail—the process itself—is simply part of the equation. If we lose our ability to fail, we also lose our ability to succeed.

What lessons can we learn from Peter? We can learn from our mistakes so that we may learn to fail faster to succeed sooner –benefiting from the wisdom of our experiences. Now that you have an understanding of failure, you can see that so long as we can learn from our failures, we haven’t really failed at all. Failure simply brings us one step closer to our eventual success. So the next time you think you’ve failed, take another look to see what you can learn so that next time you will succeed!

Please come back and join us for Part II, when we review the importance of the concept of yet as part of the success formula. Stay tuned!

With respect,


Dr. Cheryl Lentz

Chief Refractive Thinker®

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October 5th, 2012 by admin