As the young graduate entered the room, the Badger sensed there was something on wrong. The Badger’s project was the youngster’s second assignment since joining the company after University and they were doing well, showing plenty of potential, and doing their work on time and to a high standard. As they pulled a chair away from the table to sit down, however, their demeanour and body language were broadcasting that there was a problem.
‘What’s the problem?’, the Badger asked. The youngster was a little emotional and announced that completion of a key task given to them by their team leader would be delayed. The task was on the critical path and so the whole project would be delayed. The youngster’s team leader had insisted that they tell the Badger this personally. The Badger gently chuckled, mainly to ease the youngster’s upset, but also to mask his annoyance with the youngster’s team leader! The youngster, who had expected an angry outburst, relaxed, and a sensible discussion ensued during which it emerged that their failure to complete a work task on time coincided with the failure of a relationship in their private life. They were emotional because they felt that their failure would blight their career with the company forever.
The Badger provided reassurance, told them that everyone fails, and mentioned something that Marilyn Monroe once said – ‘Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything’. Quite why this quote came to mind remains a mystery to this day! Nevertheless, the youngster left in a better frame of mind, discussions took place with their team leader, and a way was found to keep the project on track. The Badger has seen the youngster a number of times as their career unfolded. Every time they have thanked him for the Marilyn Monroe quote because it made them realise they should never be afraid of failure. The Badger is very pleased to have been some help, especially as the youngster now successfully runs their own company! Their team leader at the time is still a team leader.
Failure of one kind or another pervades much of what you can read online in today’s shrill, immediate, globally connected world. It would be easy to get depressed about the state of everything, but we should not despair! Instead, we should remember the wise words of the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling – ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.’ These words are as true for governments, institutions, and corporations as they are for individuals. Never let failure get you down or become your norm. Failure is something every organisation and every person encounters, and dealing with it makes you stronger and more likely to succeed in the future.