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The Best Project Managers Are Ones Who Fail

It's a bold and perhaps unorthodox claim to make. But in essence, our success is largely dependent upon how we fail, how we view our unsuccessful endeavors, and most importantly how we react to them afterwards.

Success is really the progressive realization of worthwhile pre-determined goals. It's this very journey that makes or breaks us. Here are 10 reasons how failure can, in fact, be more beneficial than success.

I'm sure your resume highlights your project successes, but all experienced project managers have been part of a failed or troubled project at least once in their careers. That’s what shapes and creates a strong PM. In fact, the 2009 Chaos Report indicated 66% of projects were either challenged or failed to obtain business goals.

When you're part of a failed project, it seems stressful and downright painful, but you have the opportunity to learn a lot of lessons that will help lead you to project successes.


As we all make mistakes it makes great sense to learn from these and look for other possible ways to resolve our situation. Failure encourages us to look for other solutions that we ordinarily would not have thought about had things been somewhat easier.


Do you remember applying for your first job after school or after just completing university? It was probably hard to get employed directly into the job you wanted as the employer wanted those who had experience to work for them.

As we err and learn from our mistakes we tend to react accordingly making us a little more aware of what needs to be done in order to achieve our objectives. If we had succeeded immediately without tasting the disappointment associated with failure then it's possible that we may not have been so adventurous in looking for other possibilities, such as that outlined in the first point.


Charisma may be useful in attracting a following, but it is largely useless when it comes to achieving a long-term, positive impact on the people and organizations we lead. For this, we need character.

Failure ultimately shapes you as a leader. Failure is the most powerful source for know-how and understanding. It teaches you about survival, renewal and reinvention of yourself and the organization you are leading.


If your determination, will, desire and hunger to succeed are as big as you think then to fail along the way is simply taking a lengthy detour to where you want to be -- nothing more! We've all been in city traffic jams: sometimes it's easier (and quicker) to go an extra twenty blocks out of your way to get home.

Sure, it's hard getting up after a dozen knock-downs in rapid succession but you'll find a direct correlation between how quick you get back up and how long you stay there as your experience increases.


If you find it difficult or even impossible to justify to yourself why you're doing what you're doing then maybe you're barking up the wrong tree. Try something else in this case.

However, if your desire increases even though your successes have, to date, eluded you then the realistic value of this goal has been determined. This is priceless. You know you want it, so for go and get it.


This depends if you have what it takes to go all the way. If you melt under pressure then you'll probably give up. As things become more clear with your experience then nothing can touch you. You will begin to develop power from within! Your self-confidence goes wild with "tunnel vision" offering only one outcome; that of reaching the end. All the stuff you cop on the way you'll shake off and become a better person for it.

Becoming thick-skinned is really a by-product of character building with a bit more; it shows the development of the individual and reflects the change in attitude that brings the best out of us all.


I've seen this time and time again with different types of businesses. They become too big too quickly. Normally their size increase is inversely proportional to their ability to read books (of accountancy).

This is really a question of experience. Those who worked hard for a start then followed this up by working smarter to get where they are at today will have a much higher chance of succeeding in the long term than someone who made a couple of right decisions early on but didn't develop due to a lack of exposure to other possible problems etc. I don't mean that we should all struggle for a start to make a success of what we're doing what I'm saying is that generally speaking those who have had problems, learned from them and solved them have a better chance of developing further simply due to their exposure and experience.

Succeeding too quickly may actually blind one's potential.


If I keep "stuffing up" what I'm doing then obviously it's the operator who's lacking and not the tools. Failing is one thing, but making the same futile mistake repetitively is just plain ridiculous. So, if this seems to be happening it probably makes good sense to sit down and re-analyse your approach. Sure it's possible to do this when you've succeeded as well to look when looking to the next task and goal but there's a sense of urgency about this when things aren't going to plan.

Failing is simply a way of finding out that your methods of the day didn't work. It's not a bad thing, it just requires gentle grease an oil change, lubrication here and there and then you can put your vehicle back on the road and test the re-alignment once again. Through careful planning and observation, failure will ALWAYS push you in the direction of success if you use it as the stepping stone for goal achievement that it so rightfully is.


Are you someone who passes on all the stuff you don't do very well or would you rather stick at it, making a few errors along the way to eventually master the art? Take a simple tennis match for example. Do you run around your backhand to use your forehand and develop half a game or do you feed your backhand until it becomes as good as your forehand?

Use failure as a chance to strengthen those areas that are letting you down.


Develop a successful attitude and let failure lever and assist you with it's strength and power of learning and understanding. Do not allow failure to absorb and destroy your spirit. Gain strength from knowing your desired outcome is one step closer.

If you have 100 ways you would like to try to get your desired result then one wrong turn just involves backing-up a tad and altering your game plan with your newfound knowledge. The world provides you with an abundance of opportunity so for heaven's sake don't take the easy way out and let yourself down because you screwed up a few times. Build on your knowledge: apply it, use it, do it, make it, be it.

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