Ep 53: The Art and Science of Failing Forward

Ep 53

In this episode, Bridgette and Irvine explore why failure is inextricable linked to leadership, how our mindset around failing shapes our experience of it, and what “failing intelligently” looks like in action.     



Don’t forget to check out Irvine’s You Tube channel with new videos every Wednesday on emotional intelligence, resilience, and leadership.

Check out Irvine’s new book Leadership Lessons From The Pub.

Check out Bridgette’s book which she co-authored with Bod Duggan  Resilient Leadership 2.0.

And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources some of which are mentioned in each episode. 


Bridgette Theurer [00:00:03]:

Everybody to the Resilient Leadership Podcast, where everything we talk about is aimed at helping you to lead with a greater sense of calm, clarity, and conviction even in the midst of disruptive change. My name is Bridgette Theurer, and I am joined by the wonderful Irvine Nugent, as always, my colleague and my partner and friend, and Irvine, how the heck are you?


Irvine Nugent [00:00:30]:

I am doing well, You know, if we’re 2024 and getting ready getting ready. I’m I’m doing a lot of work around, of a new initiative I just launched just before Christmas around source, a integration of nontraditional leadership experience in Ireland. So I’ve been promoting that. Oh, I invite people to if they wanna find out more, source experience dot info will get you there. Yeah. So, you know, things are going well, and I’m excited about today’s episode. So, Bridget, why don’t you share with our listeners A little bit about what we’re going to talk about and break apart today.


Bridgette Theurer [00:01:11]:

Yeah. Well, the title of today’s episode is The Art and Science of Failing Forward. I must say, I had a little trepidation about picking this as a topic because let’s be real, who wants to sit around and walk at length about failure? Raise your hand. Nobody’s raising their hand.


Irvine Nugent [00:01:31]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:01:32]:

But I was inspired, I think, to do it because, really, I wanted to learn something about this.


Irvine Nugent [00:01:39]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:01:40]:

don’t know about you, Irvine, but, you know, in my coaching conversations, occasionally, this topic of failing or failure will come up, and it’s a bit


Irvine Nugent [00:01:49]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:01:50]:

Sometimes people having a real aversion to it, and I I have to admit, you know, I’m one of those people who hasn’t always had the best relationship to failure, I think I have an aversion to the notion. So I thought, well, maybe there’s something here for me to learn.


Irvine Nugent [00:02:05]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:02:06]:

And so that’s really why I wanted us to delve into it. Now I also got further inspired when I came across this quote from Henry Ford. And what he said is failure is simply the opportunity to begin anew, this time more intelligently. That’s what we’re really after. Right? Is Yeah. It’s not just failing, obviously, but failing forward in such a way that we move into the future with greater wisdom and insight. Alright. Now I shared a little bit about my a version to the notion of failure.


Bridgette Theurer [00:02:44]:

And I’m just curious, Irvine, how would you characterize your relationship with failures, it’s something you have become really comfortable with or do you find yourself still holding it at arms length or what?


Irvine Nugent [00:02:58]:

So I would say I my baseline is that I ignore it And I move on. I I I have this ability, really. I don’t wanna reflect upon it. I don’t wanna dwell upon it. Now I I’ve shared before with listeners, I am the optimist, and that’s a great thing to have. However, one of the areas that optimism can get you into trouble with is that you aren’t willing to sit and dwell With perhaps things that haven’t worked out. And I have a tendency to move on just a little too quickly to the next venture without kind of really maybe teasing out what are the lessons. And so I think an advantage is that I’m resilient.


Irvine Nugent [00:03:44]:

I kinda get up quickly. But maybe a disadvantage is perhaps I’m not teasing out everything that could have been learned from the experience.


Bridgette Theurer [00:03:53]:

Interesting I can see that about you for sure, that optimism. Okay. Let’s just dust ourselves off and move forward. Right? Yep. I can I get that? Alright. Now what about your clients? I’m I’m curious. Does failing or failure come up from time to time, and what have you noticed with your with your clients.


Irvine Nugent [00:04:13]:

You know, it’s interesting. So I I think there are some clients a little bit like me. But, you know, more often than not, I see in some clients the opposite, and that is that the fear of failure Actually leads to some paralysis.


Bridgette Theurer [00:04:31]:



Irvine Nugent [00:04:31]:

That it prevents a decision that needs to be made. So sometimes when you explore situations that are stagnant a little bit, when you uncover it, it’s a decision that hasn’t been made. And when you uncover that, it’s a little bit Fear of failure. What if it doesn’t work out? And that goes from everything from a new program or that has to be launched or even, like, a conversation that should have happened that hasn’t happened. And if you dig a little deeper in that, why didn’t that happen? Clients will say to you, well, What if it all goes wrong? What if it blows up? And and it’s this fear that the the conversation will work. It will fail. And so sometimes, I think more often than not, what I fear is it’s a stumbling block to really moving forward.


Bridgette Theurer [00:05:15]:

Yeah. I I concur. I see that, especially around the difficult conversations, you know, people have this entire narrative in their head about how badly that conversation might go so they avoid it. That that’s kind of a classic example of avoiding failure.


Irvine Nugent [00:05:31]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:05:32]:

So it’s not an easy thing to grapple with. Is it?


Irvine Nugent [00:05:35]:

No. And I think, you know, we we gotta face the fact that if you are a leader and you think you’ll never fail, then you’re in the wrong position. Because part of leadership really is the reality that sometimes you are going to have to face failure at work. And whether it’s your own failure, whether it’s your teams, whether it’s an employee that you’re managing. So let’s start there maybe, Bridget, and explore a little bit, you know, How are leadership and failure linked?


Bridgette Theurer [00:06:06]:

Well, boy, are they linked. You know, in a previous episode, and I think it’s one of the ones that has been downloaded the most. We talked about strategies for dealing with resistance and sabotage and how it’s a sign it can be a sign that you’re doing something right as a leader. You know, that was Ed Friedman who taught us that resistance and sabotage are part and parcel of a leader’s job, and it shows in many ways that they’re on the right track. And I would say, let’s frame failure in the same way. At least failing forward, failing intelligently, right Yep. It’s a sign that you are doing something right as a leader.


Irvine Nugent [00:06:49]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:06:50]:

And so it’s in your job description. And we’ve said this before, but, like, you know, nobody would sign up for leadership jobs if they actually saw the real description, which said, you will be faced with sabotage. It will be very lonely and you’re gonna fail. Oh, no. Don’t think I’ll do that. Yeah. So it is an inherent part of leadership, yes, but let’s get a little bit more specific, like, how so? We have talked before on this podcast about that one of the core dimensions of being a resilient leader is leading with conviction. That’s an essential part of a leader’s job, and we define it in this specific way.


Bridgette Theurer [00:07:33]:

It is the willingness to act boldly, to take tough stands and to take risks even when doing so makes you vulnerable to failure and ridicule.


Irvine Nugent [00:07:45]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:07:46]:

So there you go. Right? Yeah. Yep. And I don’t see any way around it, you know, especially in a VUCA world. We’ve talked about Vuka, many times, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, leaders have to be bold. They have to innovate. We gotta try new things where they become quickly irrelevant. So this makes us vulnerable to failure.


Bridgette Theurer [00:08:09]:

And the good news is is that when we take risks and we move outside of our comfort zone, we’re doing something that is to be applauded. There is just absolutely no guarantee that it will go the way we want every time. I’m thinking of a client that I worked with not that long ago, we took a bold move. He decided he volunteered to give a presentation to the entire company. And this he he was relatively young, hadn’t done extensive presenting, certainly not to 300 people, because that’s how many people he was gonna be presenting to. But he volunteered because he wanted to challenge himself. On the day of his presentation, his nerves got the better of him, Annie ended up kinda fumbling and losing his place. He just really didn’t when we talked about it, you know, it really put a dent in his confidence.


Bridgette Theurer [00:09:06]:

And yet, the fact that he made that bold decision to volunteer, to me, told me everything I needed to know about this this client of mine, he he was gonna do well if he could fail forward. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Yep. So, Irvine, what about you? Like, I know this is a bit of tricky question, but can you think of a time when you acted boldly or you took a risk and it didn’t pan out? It didn’t go the way you hoped.


Irvine Nugent [00:09:34]:

There’s one that does an a former job of mine, and we were doing launching a program, And it was a nonprofit, so we brought it to the board. The board were very divided on it. But half the board said, yeah. Proceed very enthusiastically. And the other half of the board were equally enthusiastic in saying, no. This is not gonna work out. It’s not the right time. And, you know, so you’re faced with a decision there, You know? And I suppose the safest choice would have been not to go because nothing ventured, nothing risked, etcetera.


Irvine Nugent [00:10:04]:

And I decided to actually no. I really believe in my heart it’s the right time. So we launched the program, and it did not go down well. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it Certainly, you know, was not what we expected. And I just knew, you know, the next board meeting where there would be at least half the board saying, We told you so.


Bridgette Theurer [00:10:24]:



Irvine Nugent [00:10:25]:

And it it happened. You know? And I I still that was tough. It was, painful. It was painful. I felt bad. In hindsight, a year later, there were some really critical lessons we learned from that, and we relaunched, and it was a very successful program which impacted people’s lives. So But I think, you know, that tough decision, that risk, that that willingness to own a decision and to know that the buck stops you is very tough.


Bridgette Theurer [00:10:49]:

Mhmm, you really have to put yourself on the line. You know, there’s a whole book called Leadership on the Line, which I think is a great title. And your example, you put yourself out there and it was painful, and it was painful for my client who put himself out there.


Irvine Nugent [00:11:04]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:11:04]:

And I think that’s what we have to acknowledge is that while failing and hopefully failing forward is painful in this part and parcel of the leader’s job, maybe there’s room for some compassion here because it’s tough, you know Yep. Okay. So I think it would be interesting to share with the listeners some of the neuroscience behind what happens in our brains and in our nervous systems, when we experience failing because I think it’ll shed some light on why it’s so darn painful.


Irvine Nugent [00:11:37]:

Yeah. So it’s really interesting you say that because, like, I think that that was one of the situations I thought about whenever I was kind of beginning Kind of my real interest in neuroscience and looking at it and kind of one of the things that I uncovered, you know, was that when we feel failure, how the brain interprets that and really deals with it is in many ways the Same parts of the brain that actually react to physical pain. So this emotional pain at times, this emotional pain of failure, it’s just feeling like physical pain. So that is why it actually feels so painful. So from the brain’s perspective, they’re both the same. Yeah. So an emotional failure is physical failure. And in fact, just to reemphasize that, Another incredible study is that, people who’d experienced social rejection, you know, by 1 or 2 groups were put in a control group.


Irvine Nugent [00:12:34]:

So we we had this group experiment. 1 group were given a placebo. The other were given Tylenol for 3 days for every day. And what was amazing was the ones that took Tylenol reported that they felt less pain than the ones We’ve just taken the placita, and they’ve done all the brain scans and they they impact. So that’s amazing. You know, when we feel physical pain, we’ll say, oh, I need to take a Tylenol. You know, that will help me. We never really think of that.


Irvine Nugent [00:13:00]:

You know, well, I’m feeling emotional. Let me take a Tylenol, and the Tylenol actually have now this is not to say, people, that we are saying to you every time you feel, take Tylenol, But it’s really to emphasize how amazing the brain is and why failure is so painful for us. It’s actually physically painful for us. So Yeah. Bridget, what does that provoke within you?


Bridgette Theurer [00:13:25]:

Oh, just a lot of compassion, you know. Yep. It’s like the brain just decided we’ll have the same neural network for pain whether it’s physical or emotional. It’s very important, you know. And I just think that, you know, in the examples that we shared earlier, me with my client and you with that program that you launched, when failure is visible, man, that I think is where the pain goes up. Because not only are we dealing with our own disappointment, but we’re also feeling like we’re in a fishbowl, and we’re feeling the disappointment, you know, of the other human beings. Yeah. Who have seen us fail.


Bridgette Theurer [00:14:04]:

So it just engenders for me a lot of compassion. And I think that’s something we can do as leaders is to remember this and have not only compassion for ourselves, but for the people on our teams and in our organizations who are experiencing a disappointment or a failure. Right? They’re they’re literally experiencing physical pain.


Irvine Nugent [00:14:27]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:14:27]:

now I’m thinking from what I’ve read, Irvine, that there’s 2 other areas of the brain that get triggered


Irvine Nugent [00:14:33]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:14:33]:

In experience. It’s the amygdala and the pre frontal cortex, which I think is very interesting. So what do you


Irvine Nugent [00:14:39]:

have to


Bridgette Theurer [00:14:40]:

say about that?


Irvine Nugent [00:14:41]:

So you may be aware, you know, we’ve mentioned the amygdala in the past. The amygdala is this small little apricot or not apricot, but almond sized part of the brain at the base. And and then, really, it is involved in our processing of emotions and, also, it’s part of the brain that helps us survive Because it’s the one that drives the flight, fight, or flight response. And what happens when we feel threat, And, of course, when you think about it, you know, failure is a threat. You know? It’s a social threat. It may not kill us, but we feel it, you know, like, well, I I don’t want the shame or or whatever a threat. And so our amygdala very often can get activated. And therefore, that, when you think about it, you know, when you feel under threat, what are some of the behaviors, the thoughts, the feelings you have? You become defensive.


Irvine Nugent [00:15:35]:

We wanna protect ourselves, and so it can be blaming others or ignoring what’s happening. So when you think about it, when we feel threat, the The amygdala can lead us into some of these patterns of behaviors which really are not helpful. Because one of the things said, you know, what can make a A failure, really something that’s rich for us in the future, is learning from it. Mhmm. But the amygdala actually prevents that learning because we go into this Defensive mode or the blaming mode, etcetera. It’s not my fault. I had nothing to do with it. And so we just need to be aware of that When when we’re in the amygdala.


Irvine Nugent [00:16:13]:

And then the second one he talked about is the prefrontal cortex, and we know that this part of the brain is really responsible for executive functions, you know, Problem solving and planning and decision making and imagining, you know, kind of what could be future possibilities. And so, therefore, it’s very good. You think, oh, yes. Is a great part of the brain to be activated because we’re going to learn a lot about this experience. But, also, If we’re not mindful, this part of the brain as well can get us into trouble because perhaps what we’re doing is catastrophizing. We’re spinning a tail That’s not quite accurate, and that’s not helpful as well. So the first part, you know, the amygdala can drive us to a denial almost or a blaming, And the second one can actually drive us to thinking about a situation that’s not that, accurate, and really we don’t learn as well. So, Therefore, it’s really important that to give ourselves space and time when we’re feeling, And perhaps the first feeling that comes is maybe not accurate.


Irvine Nugent [00:17:15]:

Mhmm. And I think that’s really important. How does that resonate with you, Bridget?


Bridgette Theurer [00:17:20]:

I find that really helpful. You know, if I am feeling defensive because something I’ve tried hasn’t gone well and I find myself protecting myself and operating out of fear, maybe blaming others or blaming it on something, I I can understand that my amygdala is in charge there. And maybe some good walks and some centering will kinda calm down that that part of my my brain that has decided to, you know, treat this as a 5 alarm situation. Right? And then that’s the frontal cortex. Like, boy, isn’t it interesting that it can go either way. It’s a great thing that our prefrontal cortex is activated in failing because that’s the very part of our brain that will help us dissect it and analyze it and learn from it, unless it has decided because the amygdala is fired up to get into catastrophizing about future things that haven’t happened. So there’s, there’s lessons there, I think, I find really valuable. Right?


Irvine Nugent [00:18:24]:

Absolutely. Yes.


Bridgette Theurer [00:18:25]:

Okay. So so really interesting. Seeing. Right? So failing and failing intelligently is part of a leader’s job, and nevertheless, it is painful. From a neuroscience point of view, we understand why, and we have some clues as to how to work with our brain. Well, you know, we haven’t done yet, Irvine, is we haven’t really defined or described what does failing intelligently look like for a leader. So let’s do that. And, I don’t know, I think a way that might be kind of fun to do it or interesting, shall I say is, I’m gonna share a story, and I got permission from this person who happens to be my daughter-in-law.


Bridgette Theurer [00:19:07]:

Shout out to Reagan Theurer, who launched a business and it didn’t work out. So I I asked her if I could share her story. And, Irvine, I’m just curious as I because you haven’t heard this story. When I share it, what what do you hear in terms of the specifics around failing intelligently? Okay, so here’s what happened. A few years ago, she, for the first time, launched her own business. And it was in the area that she was very passionate about. And as is the case with Reagan, she puts her whole self into whatever she tries. And so she was all about it.


Bridgette Theurer [00:19:43]:

And she worked hard and she did all of the right things in many respects, and it involved putting herself out there on social media to advertise and involved obviously, it was a risk, but even running of the business, there were all these junctures at which she had to take risks and face rejection, which, you know, was it’s not easy. And what happened is after about a year in, she had to come to the painful conclusion that it wasn’t working


Irvine Nugent [00:20:14]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:20:14]:

she had to close-up shop. She did share with me that at first she felt some shame around this. And I think that’s interesting that she that those are her words, not mine, you know. She also felt so badly that she disappointed her clients and she couldn’t serve them anymore because she was closing up shop. And yet, you know, what she did is she pivoted. She gathered her resolve and she learned a couple things that she shared with me. I mean, one is she said, this this business was done completely virtually, and I’m a people person. So one of the things I learned is whatever I do next, I need to be more engaged with people.


Irvine Nugent [00:20:54]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:20:56]:

And she also learned that the whole reason she started this business and the part she found most fulfilling was that she was helping people.


Irvine Nugent [00:21:05]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:21:05]:

And so she said, that’s my nonnegotiable. I know this now about myself. So how the story ends is that she pivots, she gets another job for a couple of years that she does get out more, she’s helping people, and then, guess what? She gathers her courage and she started another business. And she is in the midst of running that business now, and she has learned and applied her learning to this new business. One of the biggest things she said she has noticed is that she faces the inevitable rejection in the sales process with a thicker skin now. Because she’s learned that no means no for now, but not necessarily no forever.


Irvine Nugent [00:21:50]:

Love that.


Bridgette Theurer [00:21:50]:

And and by the way, just just as a shout out to her, she started the business with with my Sun, they they work it together, and it’s called Aluma Films, a l u m a, Films. If anybody knows anybody who’s getting married, they are wedding videographers, and they produce gorgeous films.


Irvine Nugent [00:22:11]:



Bridgette Theurer [00:22:12]:

So that’s, I think, I don’t know. It’s an interesting story, and I’m so curious to hear what did you hear in that about failing forward.


Irvine Nugent [00:22:21]:

Well, coming off last episode, one of the things that I really appreciate is the willingness to explore and be honest about the feelings and emotions she was having, and yet she didn’t over identify with them. You know, shame is a really insidious emotion that we have. Well, it’s really not just 1 emotion. It’s a number of things coming Together, one of the things with shame is it can really overwhelm us, and it can at times drive people, you know, shame that that they are. They personalize it. So what she was able to do in time was to say, you know, the business failed. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Okay? And I think that’s difficult at times.


Irvine Nugent [00:23:09]:

It’s it’s hard not to personalize and say, you know, I’m a failure Here. And it’s like, no. The this project was a failure, and so that ability to separate, I think, was really important. And then the other thing is because of that separation was that she learned some really important things about herself, which was key. And I I just love that. You know, we we started with this quote. You know, failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, only this time more intelligently, and and it was just like, you know, hey. This is my my core ability, my secret superpower we talked about our superpower.


Irvine Nugent [00:23:40]:

One of my superpowers is my ability to connect and relate with people, and here I am setting myself up where that’s not part of the equation. So I love that that that ability to kind of once again revisit what did I learn from this this this project that failed, And yet I was able to learn and redo it again. So that’s what strikes me. What what strikes what stands out for you?


Bridgette Theurer [00:24:02]:

Well, definitely, both of the things that you just shared right on the money. I also was struck by how she accepted responsibility. Mhmm. You know, she did not try to reflect this. I don’t think I ever heard her say, well, if only this had been different. Like, if the market conditions had been different or if I’ve gotten more support or, you know, if only this other person would have done x, y, and z. No. No.


Bridgette Theurer [00:24:28]:

No. It was just, you know, a kind of a an inner quietness that she went about doing this, I think we crave leaders who accept responsibility


Irvine Nugent [00:24:40]:

I agree.


Bridgette Theurer [00:24:40]:

And stand tall in the midst of something not working out. So that struck me. And then the courage to start again. That, you know, she she had had an experience of of failing, but because she fell forward, I think that helped her to take the risk yet again, knowing that it too might not work out and yet, hey, she dealt with it the 1st time, she would deal with it again if that happened, and, so far so good, you know?


Irvine Nugent [00:25:09]:

Love it.


Bridgette Theurer [00:25:09]:

So, Irvine, for you, I know, you know, having coached many many leaders, inevitably, you have worked with somebody who’s in a leadership position who demonstrated failing intelligently, I’m guessing, does does an example


Irvine Nugent [00:25:25]:

come out? Yes. Yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, and here, I have to take one that’s it’s, so so far, we’ve dealt with examples that That I think there was something big on the line, like a business, a program. But I also think, you know, going back to the whole thing of how the brain you know, we’re social beings, and so one of the pains that comes from perhaps failure is failing socially. And a leader comes to mind Who was in he had a team around him and just the the team really didn’t talk to each other, and he wanted to really improve that. He he wanted to try and have some cohesion, etcetera. And I remember him saying to me, he said, you know, I’m just gonna take this risk.


Irvine Nugent [00:26:07]:

I I I’m just going to do 5 minutes at the beginning of the meeting, and I’m just gonna, you know, have a question, a little sharing time. I just need to move the needle. And you’d think that’s not a big risk. You know? It’s just and and it totally fell flat. I said it was like crickets. And then he said, but I’m gonna keep it up. And he did it the next time, and he did it actually 4 weeks in a row and eventually Got people to begin to share and to talk. And I thought, you know you know, on the face of it, that might not seem like a big risk.


Irvine Nugent [00:26:40]:

It might not seem a huge failure. But Really, you know, it was the persistence, the honesty to realize it may take a longer time. I’m willing to fail. I’m willing to To suffer the crickets around the room in this greater cause. And I just thought that was a great example of persistence and a willingness to fail, not just once, But twice but 3 times before it actually, you know, took hold and that he moved the needle a little bit.


Bridgette Theurer [00:27:06]:

Oh, that is such a beautiful example, and I’m sure our listeners can relate to that. Because you’re right, sometimes the failures are big and visible, but we take small social risks, you know, often. Yes. And sometimes they they really fall flat flat. Totally. Can be painful too, but the persistence you know, as I was listening to that, I was remembering one of my experiences with failing. You know, I’ve written cowritten 2 books, but let me tell you, my writing career did not start out on a positive note. Many, many years ago many years ago, I was sort of writing a draft, if you will, of a book about parenthood based on my own experience.


Bridgette Theurer [00:27:46]:

And one of my friends got a hold of it and thought it was fantastic. And she’s like, you really should turn this into a book. And she knew an editor who worked for a publisher. And she said, can I send her this draft? Which she did. And the editor ripped it to shreds. And she did. And one of her comments, which lives on in infamy for me, was this is a very sappy treatment of parenthood. You need some real stuff in here.


Bridgette Theurer [00:28:16]:

Okay. So now why am I sharing that? Because guess what I did. Did I persist? I said, I’m not gonna do that. I don’t think I’m a writer. And I just sort of quietly closed it. Now I did finish it as a a journal for my family, but there was just no way I was ready to, in the midst of that kind of critical feedback go forward with it. So I didn’t feel forward. However, I guess ultimately I did because I’ve since co written 2 books.


Bridgette Theurer [00:28:49]:

Right, so like it to me. Alright. So I guess we have to end with some kind of a core


Irvine Nugent [00:28:55]:

Yeah. Like, we’ve got, like, We always try and end with some form of practice. What what do you think, Bridget? Have you got a practice that comes to mind?


Bridgette Theurer [00:29:03]:

Well, I do. And it’s about adopting a growth mindset towards failure. I think a lot of our listeners have probably heard of, you know, growth mindset because it got so popular. It’s a, a term coined by the psychologist Carol is it Dweck? Is that do you know?


Irvine Nugent [00:29:20]:

Work. Yep. Yep.


Bridgette Theurer [00:29:20]:

Yeah. And, you know, there’s the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset and what her research, she’s a psychologist, revealed is that people who have a growth mindset believe that their talents and their abilities can be improved over time with hard work and intentionality. Those with a fixed mindset tend to believe that their talents everybody’s talents are innate gifts. So, you you know, there’s no real improvement of them, and and we’re all somewhere in we nobody’s got a perfect growth mindset or a perfect fixed mindset. But when it comes to failing, I think bringing a growth mindset can really help us. And so let me get more specific about, like, what would that look like, right, from a leadership point of view? And so I’m gonna suggest 3 things. And one is to appropriately encourage risk taking in your organization with your words and with your actions. That, you know, you demonstrate a willingness for people to be bold and to take risks and you do it yourself.


Bridgette Theurer [00:30:26]:

You lead by example. That’s number 1. And you do it because of number 2, which is that you reward employees for the important lessons learned even when a project or an initiative doesn’t reach its objectives. That’s the big one. That’s where the growth mindset comes in. It’s like you know that a risk doesn’t always work out. You encourage it nonetheless with your words and your actions, and then you reward employees and you give you create the space for those lessons learned to be shared, to be articulated, and so forth. And number 3, and this might be the hardest part, is gracefully admitting your own errors and mistakes when you’ve played a role in something that has not gone according to plan, that you are out front and center, standing tall, and you’re not blaming others and you’re not getting defensive.


Bridgette Theurer [00:31:27]:

That’s the practice. What what do you take care of her?


Irvine Nugent [00:31:30]:

Oh, I love that. Yeah. I I think such a wise approach and a space to put ourselves Whenever we are dealing with either failure or anticipating risk, you know, and and failure as well. Oh, I love that. Very, very nice. Well, Bridget, this has been really wonderful conversation. It’s got me thinking about moments of failures and lessons learned. We’ve covered, you know, a little bit of the neuroscience and really why feeling feels so bad because it’s like pain.


Irvine Nugent [00:32:01]:

And then we’ve also, you know, thought about how do we feel intelligently? What does it look like feeling forward? Thank you for sharing the story. Thank you for your For the willingness, you know, of your son and daughter-in-law to share their experience because I think that was such a rich story. And the really the lessons coming out of that of Not having to own those emotions, being responsible, and really learning the lessons, and and finally, this this lovely a growth mindset around it. So I think, you know, we leadership entails failure, and it is not the pretty part of leadership. And it’s tough. And so, hopefully, I know many of our listeners today, there are either you’re going through a failure at the moment or You’re maybe worried about something that may be failing, and, hopefully, this will give you some inspiration and some guidance about how to Really pick out the lessons from that. So thanks so much, Bridget. I really enjoyed it.


Bridgette Theurer [00:32:54]:

Thank you, Irvine. Again, I learned something really important for myself and a reminder for all of us that leadership this is another quote from Ed Freeman. Leadership is not for the faint of heart.


Irvine Nugent [00:33:06]:

Ain’t that the truth?


Bridgette Theurer [00:33:06]:

And yet we all do have within us the resourcefulness to fail forward. So thanks again, Irvine, and to our listeners. As always, thank you for being on this journey with us. Take care.


Irvine Nugent [00:33:19]:

Bye now, everyone.

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