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The Journal Gazette

Friday, July 22, 2016 10:25 am

Some failures might help map road to success, author says

Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette

You might say Lennox Cornwall has a comfort with what most people desperately want to avoid -- failure.

Sure, it can be embarrassing and maybe even costly. But if leaders scorn failure, they risk stifling creativity, said Cornwall, author of "Embracing Failure: Your Key to Success."

He even suggests companies might want to have a budget for failure. He views it as "investing in failure to achieve success."

Cornwall is a former corporate banker in London who owned a business by age 30, but experienced failure. He is one of several managers and leaders whose interviews with Michelle Pizer are being shared through a podcast series called "Crack the Leadership Code: Lead with Confidence, Make a Difference and Build a Corporate Career You Love." Pizer is an executive coach and organizational psychologist in Melbourne, Australia.

In his interview, Cornwall wasn't suggesting failure for the sake of failure or simply giving mavericks the green light. Risks, he told Pizer, are worthwhile if they might further an organization's objectives.

Companies that are "massively successful spend an enormous amount of time and money on research and development," Cornwell said. He cited Apple and Microsoft as examples.

Organizations should create a culture where people "are rewarding for taking good risks, even when they fail," he said. 

Leaders need to encourage dreaming big.

"If your dream isn't a mixture of fear and excitement, it isn't a big enough dream," Cornwall said. There's something magical about the mix of excitement and fear that can be a propeller.

Pizer's two-week series of podcasts, which I first mentioned last week, includes nearly 30 interviews. I'll share more next week.