Saying the "F" Word at Work

It’s my favorite subject when I’m talking about anyone other than myself: failure.

It’s named different things: Sarcasm. Snark. Wit. Criticism. Pure comedic genius (maybe I’m only one who calls it that).

But the truth is, as much as I like to nit and pick and parody for a few chuckles and snickers, I have a hard time talking about failure in any way that’s actually productive.
I’m not the only one with this problem.
At work yesterday we watched a fascinating Ted Talk by David Damberger of Canadian-based Engineers without Borders. From the just title, What happens when an NGO admits failure, you can get a pretty good idea of where he’s headed.
In a sweep of boldness and vulnerability, he shares failures, and lots of them. How Engineers without Borders has failed. How the aid world has failed. Even how he personally has failed to make the impact he had hoped.
It’s tough stuff.
But it’s also refreshing. Even hopeful.
If we don’t acknowledge our failures, how will we move past them? How can we expect to not repeat our mistakes if we don’t know our mistakes?
I work in marketing and development for a similar type of NGO. I can’t imagine sending out a Failure Report instead of a Progress Report to a donor. But I think we do a pretty good job of admitting our failures internally. And it’s the times we talk about failure that we actually learn. That we actually grow. That we actually embody our desire to innovate and improve lives.
It’s not much different than confessing our sins. We admit our mistakes and failings. We ask forgiveness. We move forward. We learn. We grow. We move a bit closer to becoming who God created us to be.
If that’s the case, I need to wrap up this post and sign off. I’ve got a lot more failing to do.
And whether you’re an aid criticism junkie (like me) or just someone who generally fears failure (like most of us), I highly recommend taking the 13 minutes to watch the video below.

What about you? Do you have trouble talking about failure? What did you think of the video? Do you think it will benefit aid organizations to be more open about failure? 
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One thought on “Saying the "F" Word at Work

  1. Loved this post (and the video!). Thanks for sharing it with me!

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