In an ironic twist for Theresa May in June ’17, the Museum of Failures opened in Sweden a week after the UK general election, and received global press attention.
Exhibiting such things as the Bic pen for women and coffee flavoured Coca Cola (yuk!), the museum has the strap line ”Learning is the only way to turn failure into success’’, showcasing failure and celebrating it as a key ingredient to innovation. Speaking to the BBC the museum’s founder, Samuel West, said that many major brands were just not willing to contribute, showing just how difficult it can be to admit failure. Has this now become a cultural norm? From Facebook and Instagram showing only the ‘best’ of people’s lives, the airbrushing of imperfections in photos, to schools and colleges removing winners and losers from sporting events – all creating a new ‘perfect’ normal, where mistakes are seen as weaknesses to be hidden and never spoken about.
However there is change on the horizon, Samuel West, the founder, also talked about his teenage daughter taking the Museum of Failure stickers to school, where they were becoming popular and being adopted as badges to be worn with pride. His daughters’ friends’ identifying that failure is normal, honest and human.
According to a Harvard Business Review study: ‘’When leaders are true to themselves and admit mistakes or failures it gives others permission to do the same, changing the norms of the workplace.’’ The benefits are reported as: significantly higher job satisfaction and engagement, greater happiness at work, stronger sense of community, more inspiration and lower job stress. The more people share of themselves with others, the better the workplace experience. Spending less time and energy on self-monitoring freed up more time and energy for the task at hand.
In practice this means; not following the crowd, not being self-conscious and bringing the real you into work – being the same you in work as out of work.
Showing that you are human, normal and vulnerable – like we all are.
”it’s time to let rip!”
Ways to humanise and normalise your workplace.
- When was the last time that you openly admitted to a mistake? Do your co-workers or team feel able to freely admit mistakes and ask for help? Make the change so this honesty becomes normal.
- Do you always try and present the perfect you? Get over yourself – it’s a façade. Being authentic is accepting the real you – warts and all.
- Be honest about your weaknesses and view them as opportunities to look outside of yourself. Find the strengths in others.
- Stop seeking approval – be honest and say what you really think. Stop trying – just be.
- Are you often judgemental about others? This can stop you valuing those around you. Turn off your critical voice, really listen and be open to others.
- Be led by your heart and not your mind, trust those hunches and go with your intuition.