Monday, April 18, 2011

Things are Going to Go Wrong

Over the weekend, author Jim Rasenberger was interviewed by NPR's Noah Adams on his book The Brilliant Disaster.   The new book deals with Bay of Pigs debacle 50 years ago when anti-Castro revolutionaries failed in their invasion of their homeland.  Rasenberger believes that the most important legacy of the Bay of Pigs may be to remember Murphy's Law:  "Things are going to go wrong."

President Kennedy was proud that his administration was composed of “the best and the brightest.”  Rasenberger suggests, “It would be wise for presidents to have a few people in their administration more acquainted with things not going well."

Perhaps this is something to think about when we pull together a team.  We always want to “get the right people on the bus” (as Jim Collins says), but the right people may include some who have tried, failed, and learned from their experiences.  We all will fail but the important thing is to learn from our failures.

Some of my coach friends would counter, “There is no such thing as failure.”  I would have to differ because I have been involved in some whoppers!  These projects involved major investments of time, people, prayer, and money but they failed to achieve their goals.  Did I learn from those experiences?  Yes.  Will I ever make the same mistakes again?  Maybe so, but not in exactly the same way.

When I was in my thirties, I was being reviewed by my supervisor and felt compelled to tell him all the things that I had tried that had failed.  I was surprised when he said, “No problem.  Keep trying.  It’s the only way you are going to learn anything!”

When you put together your team, don’t be afraid to include some people who have stumbled.  If they have picked themselves up and learned why they stumbled, they can be a valuable part of your team.

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