These things

a followable story

Innovating Leadership Through Failure

It seems the spark of innovation is best seen through the dulling pain of failure.  The sum of my failures has often uncovered the path to success as those sparks turn into lights in a very dim-lit alley.  Through my fearless attitude towards failure, I still have the audacity to continue.   It’s the team that gives up and  ‘chooses’ failure as the outcome that truly fails.

It takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Let’s just say I am just getting started…  And we’ve come so far.

Without trial and error, without trying, without failing…success is a story book fable outside the boundary of hard work and sweat equity.

The attitude towards ‘failing’ is becoming so very trivialized now.  I feel like at some point I became scared to fail when I should have been taught partly how to minimize the fall out and damage control. While every entrepreneur discovers his or her strengths, we also begin to understand that we do have weaknesses.  Our society has channeled confidence into our grade school lunches while we cater to leadership camps that train examples of failure and success to help minimize the damage; to help minimize the fall out.

In order to be a great leader you must not be afraid to fail.  People follow passion; not success.

It also helps if you have mastered the art of following.  Once you have given your blind trust and effort into someone else’s vision can you then understand the amount of dedication expected from a role of leadership.

A good leader provides a lesson to the team after a failure.  A great leader becomes acutely aware of an impending failure and begins preparing to minimize damage and expediting the incident from lesson to innovation to prevention. The learning never stops. Failure never sleeps.  It works 120 hour work weeks pushing your limits making it look easy. It lingers and stinks and has the same systemic symptoms as cancer.  If undetected and untreated…it will surely overcome.

In the end,  success is truly the perception of excellence mounted on top of a well hidden duct-taped cardboard box.  It’s asymptotic and never a sustainable state. As we prepare our leaders for the future, how do we ‘train’ them in an environment where books are printed just as the economy and culture shifts to make them obsolete; especially in technology.

Seth Godin says our society is training everyone to lead.  Well, if we are all leaders, who will be the followers?  More importantly…where are we all going without them?


About the Author

I am a husband to a beautiful wife named Whitney and Dad to a wonderful baby boy. Yay! :) Damien Augustus Shaffer has come into this world on March 15th 2010. In my professional life, I have accumulated over 4 years utilizing a wide range of technologies to develop software solutions for my current employer. Most of this time was spent learning methodical approaches within different environments to broaden my programming knowledge and project planning abilities. These environments include both open source and Windows based development, mainly Web. I also dabble in Social Media and it applications in today's culture and marketplace. I consider it a hobby but some may say its an obsession. ;) I enjoy it immensely.


  1. brandon

    June 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Something I truly needed today, facing some failure in starting my business. These are words of encouragement. thanks

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