Keeping Track of Failure

I was catching up on Seth Godin’s blog and came across this quote “We respond to what we keep track of. Too bad we’re not better at keeping track of how many failures we incorrectly predicted, how many innovations we failed to notice and how many apparently risky steps we failed to take.”

Most of us are myopic when thinking about our “failures”…we focus in on the little things we failed to do instead of seeing “what could have been” on a bigger scale. We beat ourselves up for small transgressions and miss the big picture. Keeping track of failure becomes a punitive exercise not a productive one.

How much better would our lives and work be if we focused instead on what actions we could have taken to advance a project or support a teammate? What if we tracked the trends we didn’t capitalize on? Focusing on that type of “failure” could lead us to true innovation and put failure back into its proper place as an indicator of results, not an indictment of personal character.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life ( to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company,, and She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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