How a Growth Mindset Helps Great Leaders Fail Forward

Michael Jordan was once famously quoted on the subject of failure: 

“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.”

Failure is one of the most challenging and frustrating elements of running a business, and it can come in many forms – missing deadlines or quotas, having to rehire for a position, receiving a negative review, etc. It can take the wind out of your sails and damper any leader’s enthusiasm if not addressed properly.

So, let’s discuss how to fail forward and transform a misstep or setback into an asset that becomes a practical developmental tool for your business.

Failure Can Be Good, Actually

It’s important to realize that no business is immune to failure – just look at New Coke or McPizza. Still, great leaders adopt a growth mindset that inevitably turns these failures into opportunities for change that can develop them into an even more successful company. This momentum is possible with any business, even physical therapy practices.

Look at perceived failures as a learning experience that gives you a new chance to model strategy and embrace a new direction. While the initial feeling of failure can be disheartening, it should only be temporary. It’s already in the past and what you and your team do with that failure is what will define your business and achieve the most significant impact.

5 Leadership Strategies to Becoming a Failure-Forward Business


1. Openly Address the Failure

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge the failure. Not addressing a failure can result in a lot more trouble down the line, and failing to acknowledge mistakes can give those mistakes more power than they initially had. Let your employees know what has happened, but more importantly, what will be done about the issue.

2. Take Ownership of the Failure

To affect real change, you must take extreme ownership of the misstep and put the right people and processes in place to keep it from happening again. In their book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” Jocko Willink and Lief Babin explain how leadership is the most important factor to any success and great leaders own the results either way to lead and win. This develops the trust and loyalty necessary to do great things.

3. Use Failure as a Launching Point

A mistake you do not learn from is a wasted opportunity. While repeated failures are a natural part of life, you can make them sting a lot less by embracing them as learning opportunities. If a policy or decision has resulted in a failure for your private practice, note it so you can try something else next time the situation arises.

4. Lean Into a Growth Mindset

Be sure to lead by example so your staff develop a growth mindset and make sure it becomes part of your work culture. Your physical therapy clinic should embrace challenges or failures and learn from them in order to increase capabilities and future achievements. Having this mindset transforms mistakes into opportunities for growth.

5. Steer the Company Culture 

Consider equipping your team with the ability to produce small failures to learn. Don’t focus on failure as a catastrophe or something to only recover from. Instead, create a culture in your clinic that allows staff to try new things, fail, and learn from them. Be failure-forward by default.

Elevate Leadership Skills with MEG Business

While failure can be an essential part of the learning process and lead to eventual success, it is only part of the process. Turning failure into future success comes from learned leadership abilities, personnel management, clinic culture and how your team reacts to obstacles.

MEG Academy’s private practice coaching is a proven method to set your clinic up for success with built-in redundancies for a failure-forward mindset. Our physical therapy business consulting has helped owners achieve success, expand their reach, and build on those results.

Request a free practice assessment from MEG Business and get actionable feedback on how to take your clinic into the top 10% of private practices.

MEG Academy programs for Physical Therapy

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