If you knew you could not fail….

The other day my wife repeated this well known quote.

what would I do if I knew I could not fail?

I was taken by this quote because my perspective as a leadership coach and entrepreneur has definitely changed how I look at this question.

You see there is a crucial word embedded in this quote “fail”. In my leadership development programs I regularly teach my clients about the difference between a mistake and a failure.

Failure or Mistake

A mistake in my world is an opportunity. A chance to learn something new. Yes it is difficult to make them and our ego revolts trying to keep us from making them. The embarrassment, admitting we don’t know everything is tough. The opportunity lies in becoming a life long learner. How do you learn how to lead? One critical answer to this question is to learn from every experience possible. Dig down to the root cause, understand what went wrong and why. Most importantly learn from it.

When we do this it becomes far easier to learn and grow and overcome mistakes. How do you learn to lead? Keep learning, keep an open mind, challenge your assumptions and biases.


What is a failure really? In my world when we fail to learn from a mistake such that it repeats then we have failed. Simple in thought more difficult in action perhaps. Maintaining this perspective opens many doors. Doors perhaps only a leadership coach might help you open without a clear intentional learning strategy. Regardless don’t let your mistakes become failures.

On another note as an organizational leader we need to manage and address the mistakes of others. Included below is a flow chart of how we at Developing Leaders believe that mistakes should be addressed. Contact us if you want to learn more.


Embedded in the word failure is another ominous word fear. In another post we will deal with this as well. Once you gain a learning mindset we hold the key to overcoming the fear holding us back from living a life of purpose.

Lead well


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