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Why You Have to Let People Fail 


by Glenn Shepard
August 30, 2016
Category:  Management



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Some people learn by reading, some by doing, and some have to stick their tongue in the light socket before they get it.

While no one likes pain, it helps us learn lessons we need to learn. And more importantly, it ensures we don’t forget them.

You probably don’t remember all the details of the first time you touched a hot burner on a stove, swatted at a bee nest, or any of the other crazy things we do as kids. But you never did them again because the consequences are etched deeper in your memory than the actual events.

Dave Ramsey says that experience is a harsh teacher, but at least it's a thorough one.

This is why it’s such a travesty when well-intentioned people try to insulate others from the consequences of their actions.

It starts with Helicopter Parents who shield their kids from ever feeling pain, disappointment, or anything negative. While these parents have good intentions, it backfires because it only delays the inevitable.

These kids might enjoy a sheltered childhood, but as young adults they’ll be ill-equipped to handle the harsh reality of a dog eat dog world.

Even though they know it in their heads, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow when they realize everyone doesn’t get a trophy in the real world. And that they don’t get a promotion and raise just for showing up at work.

As easy as it is to criticize parents who do this, managers often make a similar mistake.

We all want our employees to grow, learn, and succeed. But we prevent them from all three of these by not allowing them to fail.

If you want your people to succeed, you must be willing to let them pass through the molding stage of failure.

If this is difficult for you, here are three more reasons you need to do it:

1. It Builds Strength
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he wasn’t “creative enough”. A young singer named Aaron was told by the manager of the Grand Ole Opry here in Nashville to “go back to driving a truck”. And the list goes on.

2. It Helps People Learn How to Make Better Decisions
It’s said that wisdom comes from good judgment, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. If you never experienced the consequences of bad judgment, you’d keep touching that hot stove.

3. It Empowers People
By letting people fail, you’re indirectly saying “I believe in you.” This helps them believe in themselves, which is a prerequisite to all personal growth.

If you really care about someone, you have to care enough to let them fail.

To Your Success,


Glenn Shepard

P.S. You know the singer named Aaron who was told to go back to driving a truck as Elvis Aaron Presley.

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