What are some reactions people have after failing at something? Several possibilities come to mind:
- You can learn from it, shrug it off and go on your way;
- You can let it embarrass you, devastate you or inhibit your future attempts at similar endeavors;
- You can get mad about it;
- You can blame it on others;
- You can have your own little pity party for a while.
Chances are, though, that most of us don’t think of the option of having fun with it. Yet that is exactly what my team at work has started to do the last couple of weeks. The photo above is of a lemur with the look and apparent attitude to match the caption of “Just…just stop.” The small print says “Because the more you talk, the stupider you sound.”
A week ago, I revealed to my team at work that I had “friended” a certain someone on a social media site. It was only moments before my clever manager made up a sheet of paper with the lemur on it, added the hashtag #fail, and “awarded” it to me, complete with my name and date (but thankfully not with the reason for receiving it). We got a good laugh out of it and I proudly hung it in my cube. Today I awarded it to a teammate for something he’s been doing all week, some might say to excess (although I’m actually jealous).
The contexts of the award have so far been silly and inconsequential. If I cost us $1 million it might not be so funny. Still, I wonder about how we address failures, especially when they are known by others.
I’ve seen bosses practically skin the hide off people for making mistakes. I’ve heard horrible, humiliating attacks in front of others – something inexcusable in my book. But rarely have I seen people find a way to discover the humor in it, get past it, learn from it, and move on. Our team has the ability and inclination to do just that.
So if you’re letting failure get you down or impede future progress, follow the lemur’s advice and just…just stop.
Leap year lesson #162 is Find fun in failure.