Guest post by Craig Freshley. We are big fans of Craig’s wisdom and are delighted to share this post with our readers. Visit Craig’s website for more superb tips on meetings and leadership.

In principle, failure is an option. In fact, it is only through failure – the timeless evolutionary principle of trial and error – that we adapt, innovate, and ultimately succeed.

Strategies like “failure is not an option” or “avoid failure at all cost” often result in simply prolonging failure until the cost is significant. The strategy to “fail fast and fail cheap” is often much more productive in the long run.

Practical Tip: Plan for failure and then learn from failures to build success. Build prototypes. Do demonstration projects. Run trials. Make small decisions that you know are not perfect and then perfect them, rather than investing lots of time and money into huge decisions that you hope are perfect.

When you think or see that something has failed, call it a failure. Accepting failure opens the door to new learning and forward progress. “What went wrong?” is an extremely valuable question. Pretending you succeeded when you really didn’t closes the door on forward progress and perpetuates more failure, no matter what you call it.

Define ultimate success for yourself, your project, your group, and simply view failures as stepping-stones along the way.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.


  1. ALLEN SMITH on July 17, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    well said.