Ep86: Intentional Failure

26 minutes

As you can imagine, the process of learning to do a headstand is a challenging thing. But did you know that it can also lead to a powerful business metaphor about commitment and failure?

 There is a huge difference, in yoga and in business, between failing to succeed, and failing to try, and that’s the topic of this week’s story. 

Why is that important for business? 

When learning to do a headstand, the only way you don’t risk going all the way over is if you didn’t commit to going all the way up. If you aren’t regularly falling over, you need to take a look at your relationship with commitment. 

But not just in yoga – this shows up in business. 

There is an inherent truth that talks about the relationship between commitment and failure in business. Part of this is examining that there is more than one kind of failure. Some failures we take as inherent parts of the process – they don’t daunt us. Another kind of failure might feel riskier – more vulnerable – and it might look more spectacular. But the truth is, the former often gives evidence of a lack of commitment, whereas the latter gives evidence of an actual effort that simply requires more work or a few tweaks. 

How often are we failing because we are not really committing?

For instance, last week we talked about branding. Had Rachel watered down and half committed to her branding, it may have failed. That’s a different kind of failure – the failure of half measures - that we are unfortunately quite comfortable with. What we should do instead is celebrate the failures that are intrinsic to truly trying. When you give it your all, you get valuable feedback that you can fix or tweak; you will never be able to work with, fix or tweak if you don’t give the effort in the first place. 

Another key lesson we learn from this yoga story is about making it safe to fail. There are things you can do with your environment that make it a little safer to swing for the fences and make bigger commitments. Part of making it safe involves strong leadership in training. Training involves asking yourself, “which part do you need them to get at the moment?” Yes, you might need them to know everything, but you can’t teach – or learn – everything at once. Being more myopically focused on what the building block right now they need to get so that you can teach the next thing is more useful. 

 This also means your company has to be comfortable with a high degree of failure. You have to create an environment that allows for the level of commitment it requires to grow. Sometimes, the leader has to be willing to be the support wall in the headstand, to allow their people to explore how far effort needs to go. 




Note: If you are in the Baltimore area, check out the class Jodi mentions: Jamal Pender at Movement Lab https://classpass.com/classes/movement-lab-baltimore/budokon-yoga


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