We learn from our successes and our failures in equal measure. To encourage learning in your business, reward both. Praise good work and goals met. But also praise mistakes that were “smart” tries. That’s not always easy to do. Failure is disappointing. How do you hide yours when it happens?

The trick is to manage the outcome before it happens — not to be in charge of it, but to manage the parameters of action. Don’t give someone more freedom than he can responsibly handle. If you do and he screws up, whose fault is it? Don’t give unlimited freedom to a beginner. It may seem like a good way to boost his self-esteem, but you are setting a trap for him that you will both one day regret. Better to define the limits beforehand.

That way, you are much less likely to face a disappointment you cannot tolerate — and if and when you do, you will feel as if it’s your responsibility as much as anyone else’s. If you feel that way, it will be easy to say, “Nice try.” Praise good outcomes. And praise good efforts. And criticize too.

But criticize only four things:

1. a failure to risk making mistakes

2. a failure to report mistakes

3. a failure to accept responsibility for mistakes

4. a failure to capitalize on mistakes OUTRAGE!

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