What to Do When You Fail

Taylor Wells

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan


I love this quote from Michael Jordan who, as far as I’m concerned, is the greatest basketball player of all time. Yes, I may be a little bit Generation X slanted here. It really challenges me to look at how we define success. According to Jordan, success is based on failing over and over again.

It turns out Jordan was just as good at defining success as he was winning championship rings, so his words are certainly worth listening to. Especially if you don't know what to do when you fail.

True success, whether for an individual or for your organization, is much more accurately viewed as the result of learning from failure. We’re all human beings, not robots (at least not yet, anyway). None of us are perfect. We all have down days. Days when we drop the ball or when a member or a teammate isn’t happy with us. The real key is that we don’t let that down day define us. Rather, we learn from it and, using a growth mindset, evolve from it.

Failure accomplishes valuable things in ourselves that we wouldn't realize otherwise. For example, failure:

Spurs greater creativity and expression


More creativity impacts many potential areas of importance to credit unions including marketing, human resources and training.

Helps us better understand our own value


Understanding our own value in turn helps us see the value others bring to the table as well.

Teaches us to embrace change


Because change is inevitable, embracing it always better than hiding from it or ignoring it altogether.

Develops humility


Successes are great but, if we’re not careful, they can lead to an inflated sense of hubris and even arrogance.

Shows us that failure does not mean final


Thank goodness for that! If we as human beings were defined and limited by failure, very few of us would make it past that first delicious bottle of elementary school glue!

Still don't know what to do when you fail? Consider this: Walt Disney was fired from his job as a reporter for a lack of creativity and good ideas. Jerry Seinfeld once bombed so badly in an early 80s sitcom he was fired and didn’t know until he showed up for work and found his part in the script missing. And, of course, even Michael Jordan missed a shot or two. Encourage yourself and the people around you at your credit union to absolutely learn from their mistakes and failures but not be defined by them.

Taylor Wells
Experience Director