Business woman standing on log that's breaking- The Most Valuable Lessons CEOs Can Learn From Failure

Being a CEO isn’t an easy job; as the highest ranking executive in a company, they have to wear many hats at once. A CEO may spend their day handling employee concerns, managing the executive team, developing company strategy, and making major corporate decisions. With so much responsibility, it’s little wonder that some of them may worry about failure — there’s a lot riding on their shoulders! The good news is everyone fails sometimes, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the most successful CEOs have experienced failure and proven that there are lessons to learn from it.

1. Embrace Failure as an Innovation Tool

Striving for perfection prevents risk-taking, and often risks are needed to make a business stand out from the crowd. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has had a number of failures over the years (the Fire Phone, Amazon Destinations, and Amazon Auctions) and has joked that failure feels like “a root canal without anesthesia.” Despite this, he’s learned to embrace failure as a tool to create successful endeavors. “I’ve made billions of dollars of failures at Amazon,” he’s said. “If you decide you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.” Some of Bezos’s experiments have become huge successes, such as Prime, Marketplace, and Amazon Web Services; Amazon Web Services alone brought in over $5.4 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2018.

2. Learning From Your Mistakes Can Be More Valuable Than Success

It’s not enough to embrace your failures; you have to be able to learn from them. Failure can teach you a lot about how to improve an idea or give you valuable hindsight. Bill Gates, principal founder of Microsoft and former CEO, has had many pitfalls over the years that he was able to learn from. From his ill-fated first company Traf-O-Data to his failure to recognize internet opportunities, Gates has been candid about some of the lessons he’s learned from failures. While discussing how Microsoft missed the boat when they failed to develop a search engine, he said, “success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” He’s also admitted that Microsoft made missteps in the mobile arena. As Gates has said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

 3. Don’t Give Up

Persistence can pay off. Elon Musk, entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX, has had repeated failures over the years. One of those failures that turned to success is SpaceX. He founded SpaceX in 2002, with the purpose of less expensive transportation to space, and had nothing but a string of roadblocks. At the start of the company’s launch, they had trouble hiring anyone who had experience building rockets. Musk has said, “And the reason that I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer, was not because I want to, it’s because I couldn’t hire anyone. Nobody good would join. So I ended up being that by default.” The first three launches failed, and the company almost went bankrupt. Having only enough money for one more launch, they tried again, to great success; not only did the rocket launch, the company received a $1.6 billion contract from NASA. “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up,” Musk stated. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

Four photos show a woman reading, a mother hugging her child, a successful business meeting and a man working out. These are all ways to connect the dots.

Fortune magazine released their 40 Under 40 list recently with a diverse list ranging in race, gender, nationality, and industry. Notable influencers that were given the honor include filmmakers like Jordan Peele, who was the first black screenwriter to win an Oscar in the screenplay category in 2018, and Executives like Dhivya Suryadevara, 39, who was the first female Chief Financial Officer of GM. What makes these visionaries amazing isn’t their skin color or gender. Instead, they are being celebrated for the obstacles they have had to overcome. Below is wisdom from another thought leader, who has empowered over 50 million people from 100 countries through his work. Tony Robbins has a roadmap to almost every subject area relevant to CEOs, artists, executives, and more. Below are pieces of advice from Tony that could help inspire you to become as influential as Jordan Peele or Dhivya Suryadevara in your circles.

Take Care of Your Body and Mind

Tony recommends reading 30 minutes a day to boost mental growth. But he doesn’t suggest reading only your favorite graphic novel or romantic fiction. Instead, he wants you to read something that will make you think critically. In his own words, “Scrolling through social media doesn’t count.”

Don’t just exercise your brain. Get your heart pumping, too! He suggests, at a minimum, exercising 5 days a week with your heart racing for 10 minutes. What you do to get your body moving is up to you, and be sure to consult with a doctor if you have any health concerns. Combining physical and mental exercise will go hand in hand in your personal development.

Expand Your Sphere

You may find yourself tempted to lower your self-worth by associating with people you think are at your level or lower because they are comfortable to you. But this won’t help you grow. Find people who have what you want, and associate with them. It’s up to you whether this means a casual “hello” and slowly building up to more small talk, or straight up asking them for their advice on your mutual fields. As Tony says, “if you play someone at your level or below, you never stretch yourself. No stretch, no improvement….Yes, staying in an environment where you feel like you’re not good enough can be tough, but hold on – it’ll pay off in the long run.”

In Giving We Receive

Try to help someone every week for 2–3 minutes, or break it into 10 minutes per month. It’s that simple. Tony recommends providing food, conversation, or your problem-solving skills. You could also try to be kind when you’re stuck in traffic. For example, let cars into your lane when they need to change lanes. Or return the grocery cart for the elderly person who cannot return it. Tony’s “secret to living is giving. It’s truly the secret for how to feel happy.”

Sleep is good for everyone, CEO and baby too

Brandon Frere famously made himself a promise that when he ran his own business he would never set an alarm clock. How did he know that getting enough sleep was a wholly rational decision that was both good for him, and—because he is responsible for hundreds of employees and thousands of clients—good for those around him?

Feeling Lonely and Isolated? Take a Nap

Recent research from UC Berkeley shows that sleep deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to social engagement. Unrested people live with the same sort of isolation as those with social anxiety. Even worse, well-rested people feel lonely after a brief encounter with a sleep deprived person. This creates a sort of social isolating virus that infects wider and wider circles.

Another study by the Rand Corporation quantified the loss to the American economy due to sleep deprivation at $411 billion per year. This is counted in terms of 1.23 million lost working days. Only Japan has worse per capita numbers. Even more serious, those who slept less than six hours per night were 10 percent more likely to die than those who slept between seven and nine hours.

There are many reasons why some people sleep less than others:

  • Age: Brain function responsible for regulating sleep begins to decline as early as 35 years of age
  • Genetics: A gene called “CRY1” regulates circadian rhythms. One variation of it causes longer circadian cycles, leading to less sleep
  • Career: Night and swing shifts are extremely harmful to healthy rest
  • Weekends: Sleeping late on the weekend can cause disrupted sleeping the rest of the week.
  • Relationships: Those in committed relationships are 20 percent more likely than single people to sleep seven hours or more per night.
  • Education: The higher level of educational attainment, the more you sleep. Over 70 percent of those with a college degree or higher sleep at least seven hours per night.

Why We Sleep

In Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, neuroscientist Matt Walker argues that lack of sleep takes a toll on everyone, from military fighters and first responders to airline pilots and truckers. It is also associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, diabetes, heart attacks and more.

As a sleep consultant to the NFL, NBA, and numerous Fortune 500 enterprises, Walker is certain of the links between a good night’s sleep and optimal performance, on the playing field and in the conference room.

All of these studies seem to point to something that Frere knows intuitively: that allowing the body to get the sleep it needs is essential to how we operate and interact in the world, that a good night of sleep is one of the healthiest therapies we can give ourselves.

Sleeping until your body says it’s time to wake up is good for the body and good for business. It also saves you all that time hitting the snooze button.

CEO sitting in yoga pose is using stress reduction tips to help with his busy work schedule

Being a CEO can be stressful. As the head decision-maker, overall operations manager, and chief strategist, the task-list is never-ending. So, it’s understandable that people with so much on their plate may have a difficult time de-stressing, especially people whose mind is always on their work. Stress can wear on a person physically and mentally. So for a CEO to be at their best, it’s necessary to keep stress in check. Some CEOs may feel too busy to work on stress-relieving techniques, but there are several things they can do that require very little effort or time.

Visualize Your Power Animal. Or Happy Place. Or Both!

Remember the scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton’s character visited his visualized cave to find his power animal? Visualization is a very effective way to mentally remove yourself from your surroundings, and that short mental vacation can do wonders for stress. Whether you’re visualizing your power animal or your favorite place to relax, simply closing your eyes and creating a mental image of that thing for a couple minutes can make your body and mind more at ease.

Take Deep, Purposeful Breaths

We don’t often think of our breathing since it’s automatic, but paying attention to our breaths can naturally make us feel more relaxed. Deep breathing supplies your brain with more oxygen, which also produces a feeling of overall calmness. Taking a moment to take a few mindful, deep breaths can bring about a quick reduction in stress. For added benefit, add in some visualization. The use of deep breathing in stress relief is so significant that the American Institute of stress has said it’s the most effective stress reduction technique.

Laugh That Stress Off

Laughter really can be the best medicine, especially for stress. Laughter can relax the whole body, and it’s tension and stress relief can affect your muscles for up to 45 minutes afterward. Laughter also releases endorphins, the “feel good” hormone. When feeling stressed, take a couple minutes to laugh. Bookmark a couple funny (work appropriate) sites, or keep funny photos in a folder on your desktop so you can quickly refer to these when you’re starting to feel that tension weigh on you.

Forced Worrying Chases Those Involuntary Worries Away

This might sound counter-intuitive, but it can be very effective: Stress can cause us to worry — worry about deadlines, or revenue… or a million other things. If stress is making you worry and you find it hard to focus, set a timer for 60 seconds and force yourself to worry. Often, trying to make yourself worry is difficult! Worries often affect us most when we’re trying to push them under the rug. After your time is up, you may find it’s easier to focus, and that worry isn’t trying to steal your attention as much.

Put a Smile on That Face

It may sound corny, but smiling can have a physiological impact on stress. While the link between facial expressions and mental states hasn’t been researched much, one study showed people who smiled during a stressful situation had lower heart rates and lower self-reported levels of stress. Some researchers have suggested smiling may reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in the body. Not only can smiling have an impact on your stress levels, but it can make people around you feel more at ease as well.

 

 

We are what we do - Aristotle quote on a slate blackboard against red barn wood - building habits for success

Success, regardless of whether it’s at work, school, or our personal lives, often depends on being highly disciplined. Discipline seems to come easily for some. Others… well, it can be more of a struggle. The good news is that discipline can be developed and part of that can be achieved by actively working on routines that can turn into habits. Habits work by actually changing the pathways in your brain. The more often you do something, the less effort and thought it requires, eventually becoming a subconscious behavior. Successful people tend to share many of the same habits, and they aren’t difficult or daunting to develop. Spend a little time each day working on them, and before you know it, these little routines will become habitual.

1. Start the Day With a Positive Mindset

Start your day invested in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. Push down any negative self-talk you might have, and instead focus on gratitude, growth, and enthusiasm for the possibilities of a new day not yet lived. Think about what you’d like to improve upon today, and set that as a mini goal to achieve; understand that nothing in the universe is fixed, yourself included.

2. Embrace A Health Conscious Lifestyle

We all know that we should eat healthily and exercise, but actually doing that on a daily basis can be difficult. Regardless, it can become a habit like anything else. Fueling yourself with nutritious food and exercising first thing in the morning awakens both the body and mind and provides energy for both to get through the day. Rest and relaxation is also part of being healthy; we all need this to recharge the body and mind. Being health conscious is all about balancing physical and mental needs.

3. Adhere to Your Core Values

What’s most important to you in life? Spend time thinking about this, and write them down. Once you’ve identified your core values, remind yourself of them daily and make sure you’re adhering to them with whatever actions you’re taking. Let them guide your goals. If and when you find yourself feeling lost or discouraged, return to your list and read through them to remind yourself of who you are and what you stand for.

4. Be Goal-Oriented

Habitually set goals; successful people know what they want and have a plan on how to accomplish it. They work on their plans, review them daily, and set deadlines for when they’d like to have their goal accomplished by. Those who are goal-oriented don’t let setbacks hold them back or persuade them to give up; they always keep their eye on the prize.

5. Spend Time in Reflection

How often do you just sit quietly and reflect? Our lives are often fast-paced; our days are overwhelmed with decisions and emotions that require quick reactions, rather than careful thought. Taking 15 to 30 minutes out of the day to disconnect from technology and sit silently thinking about goals, your day, and your plans can bring about wisdom and clarity.

6. Read Daily

Reading is a pastime that has multiple benefits. Research has shown that it can reduce both physical and mental symptoms of stress. It’s also a source of entertainment that exercises the brain; unlike movies or television, the brain has to work to convert words into meaning. Reading also is a way to build more empathy and understanding of the world around us.