Failing gracefully

In a recent talk with a fellow investor, I shared how, the more data points I see, the more I believe that people who work together (for example as employees, partners, or investors) end up having a good relationship if their work together is successful and a bad relationship if they fail together.

Ideally, this shouldn’t be the case. Ideally, we should evaluate one another on the basis of the actions we take, that is what’s in our control, rather than the outcome of those actions, where external forces also influence the outcome. Doing so would mean that you should have a good relationship with someone with whom you experience a failure as long as you believe that they took the right actions during your time working together.

Following my remark, my fellow investor gave a great example of exactly that. Despite not being part of a successful outcome, the person in the example did indeed do what’s necessary to preserve a good relationship. And although this won’t always be the case, this graceful behavior laid the foundation for the two parties working together again in the future.

It’s easy to be graceful when you succeed together and everyone is happy. Celebrating is a better term for this than grace.

Grace is what you do when things go wrong. For example, it’s what you do when you fail together.

Although failing gracefully is rare, as my fellow investor pointed out, it does occur.


Also published on Medium.