Why Failures Are Often Systemic In Nature

Failures are an inescapable part of life. Many institutions have fostered a culture that sees failures as inherently bad. However, they are essential to growth, and seeing the value in failure can be the key to your success.

What Does the Structure of a Typical Failure Look Like?


Each failure is different. The same can be said for the cause of the failure. All failures, however, can be reduced to a 3-step process.

First, you face a task that you need to complete. Then, something goes wrong. This results in the third step: a failure to complete the task.

While this seems simple, the task, reasons for the failure, and its consequences can all be incredibly complex.


Why Do They Happen?


For the most part, mistakes happen because we are human. No matter who you are, you cannot avoid making a mistake at one point in your life.

Often, your environment can play a big role in whether or not you fail at something. Therefore, failures can often be systemic in nature.

A common cause of failure is a high pressure, stressful environment. Some people thrive in high-pressure environments, but for many people, the pressure can distract them from the task. When the stakes are high, we often make silly mistakes that we likely would not have made if our body was not flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone).

Another cause of failure is trying something new. Humans learn by trial and error. We make mistakes and learn from them. And mistakes are types of failures.

On the other hand, being too familiar with a task has also been known to cause failures. When you repeat a task often, it will start to feel automatic. The more automatic a task becomes, the less we focus on it. This increases our chances of failure.


Seeing the Value in Failure


Failures are actually essential to growth. You cannot learn from your mistakes if you do not make any mistakes. However, many organisations perceive failure as a bad thing. This can create a hostile work environment, with the employee regularly engaging in the blame game.

Rather than seeing failures as something bad, try to foster a work culture that sees failures as opportunities for improvement. When a mistake happens, map out what went wrong and at what stage in the process. This can help you understand why the mistake happened, and how to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Get creative! A mistake is an opportunity to try out different solutions. While you don't want to encourage laziness, show your employees that failures can be a good thing and are an opportunity for growth. 

If you fail, it means you have tried something. It often means you have gone out of your comfort zone to try something new. And there can be no innovation without failure!


Final Thoughts


All successful people and organisations have one thing in common: they have all encountered some form of failure along the way. Try to see the value in failure, instead of focusing on its negatives and fostering a toxic work culture.

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Learning from Failure

Arttu Vesterinen

Chief Executive Officer