One of my consulting clients was involved in a multibillion-dollar pitch. At the end of the pitch the decision maker said to them, ‘Can you share a time when things didn’t go to plan?’
The pitch team, a group of intelligent, articulate, smart professionals was immediately dumb struck. Their client was looking for failure stories. Of course, the pitch team had failure stories, but nothing they could pull out under pressure.
Robert Kaplan of Harvard Business School tells us failure stories are critical as ‘Both wins and losses define your path forward’.
Failure stories are also relatable. We have all been there – it’s part of the human condition.
But temper your failure stories – they must be the right kind of failure stories for your purpose and audience.
Kaplan tells us that the struggles in failure stories must connect to doubt not skill. There is a fine line between incompetence and humility. You empathize with an accountant who struggles with work-life balance. But an accountant who shares how they regularly stuff up numbers – and whoa all your empathy vanishes!
Failure stories – the right failure stories add texture, depth, and variety to your craft as a storyteller.
Good news after working with me, this consulting client was able to articulate their failure stories with impact and on message.
🤔What’s your favourite example or tip on failure stories being used effectively in business?
Discover stories from leaders like you, who have applied these simple steps and achieved career-defining business results. Storytelling is not a natural gift, but a skill you can learn.