Failure is ALWAYS an option

There are those who would say “Failure is not an option.”

There are those who believe if you can go 60 seconds without making a mistake, you can go another 60 seconds, and then another, and then another…and therefore you should never make a mistake because all you need to do is string together a lifetime of 60 seconds of mistake-proof life.

There are those who berate their people for failing. Who chastise them in public, in private, or both.

FailureAnd to those people I say – you’re wrong.

Failure IS an option.  In fact, it is a necessity.

Without failure, we wouldn’t know what doesn’t work as we strive towards innovation.

Without failure, we wouldn’t appreciate the sweetness of success.

Without embracing our own failures, we teach our children that failure is unacceptable. And we wonder why children are either type-A stress balls or failure-avoiding underachievers.

Without learning from our failures, we are doomed to repeat them.

Learning HOW to fail is as important in learning how to win. In fact, it’s probably even more important because if you’re taking risks and living a big life, you will fail far more often than you will succeed.

So yes – failure is an option. So is success.  So is mediocrity. So is a life lived in quiet desperation.

Now ask yourself:

Are you brave enough to fail?

Victorio Milian, Master of Creative Chaos (this year’s Tim Sackett Day honoree)

The world of blogging might seem very large (and it is) but it’s amazing to see how communities and relationships grow within it.

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had the chance to meet talented, funny, intelligent – sometimes crazy – people that I never would have encountered otherwise.  And that’s a darn shame. Because these people are truly special (not “short bus” special – like, cool people who will challenge the way you think and say good stuff).

And that’s where the annual Tim Sackett Day comes in.

Started in 2011-ish, Tim Sackett Day came about because Tim Sackett was (and is) a fantastic blogger who didn’t get any love from the makers of lists.  So the blogger community got together and recognized one of their own.  This has grown into an annual tradition of giving a communal “shout out” to those who have greatness in their hearts, in their heads, and in their blogs.

This year, we recognize Victorio Milian. Why? BECAUSE HE IS AWESOMEv3

I first came across Victorio through Jennifer McClure – a mutual friend.  Since then, I have had the opportunity to read his work, follow his words, and get to know him a little bit better.

In the great tradition of numbered lists (’cause everyone loves those), here are 7 reasons why I admire the hell out of Victorio (and you should, too):

  1. His unique point of view. Victorio’s writings on his blog Creative Chaos are brief, to the point…and stick with you long after you’ve read them. (Super jealous of the “brief” thing, man.  Help me out.) He drops a knowledge bomb then moves on.  Or he shares a quote, and challenges you to think about it. Or he asks a question that seems simple, yet has no simple answer. You cannot ignore Victorio. He dares you to use your brain.
  2. He says good morning to people in fun ways on social media pretty much every day. One day he might call you a “funk fanatic.” Another time, he might call you a “master of mayhem” (that was a good day). Whatever it is, it makes you smile.
  3. He speaks many languages. Or at the very least, convincingly posts in them. I don’t know how to type an accent over an e. (Don’t judge.)
  4. His Twitter bio includes this – “Talk to me and I might surprise you.” That simple line says so much about how I see Victorio…and what I want to emulate – the invitation to talk, and the opportunity to surprise.
  5. His obvious love and pride in his family. You can just see it in any post or picture shared.
  6. The Unnamed Graphic Novel Project. Okay, bear with me.  There was a Twitter conversation going on about blogging and how often you should blog if you have one, the importance of quality, etc. I made a reference to sharing your voice in any way that makes sense to you – including a graphic novel – and Victorio was ALL over that (and Paul Hebert is on board, too).  THIS WILL HAPPEN. Be on the outlook for an HR Hero-based graphic novel coming near you!
  7. His galactic swagger. Seriously.


So join me in honoring Victorio.  The best way to do that?  Get to know him.  Connect with him.  Read his stuff.  Here’s how you can find him:

Seriously, Victorio. Happy Tim Sackett Day. So honored to know you.


Making (HR) Leaders Better

[NOTE: I’m basically guest posting on my own blog.  One of the nicest, coolest people I know – Steve Browne – reached out to various folks to request a post on how we would make HR better.  And you just can’t let Steve down!] 

It’s been an interesting start to the year for a lot of businesses.  The economy is showing signs of recovering…then faltering….then recovering again. Companies say they’re going to add jobs, while others announce massive layoffs. There is uncertainty in the air, and that uncertainty leads to panicky employees. Add on top of that the fact that it’s annual performance review time for a lot of organizations and you have a recipe for trouble.

(Not like “zombie apocalypse” trouble. More like, “oh no, we’re out of coffee” trouble. But it’s the really GOOD coffee. And there are no Starbucks nearby.  And you’re walking into a 3 hour meeting.)

When unresolved panic meets feedback meets merit meets goal-setting, you get a perfect storm – one that HR must guide that ship through. Because whether you like it or not, people take their cues to how HR handles things.

Through the years, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and learned some important lessons, as an HR leader.  And lest you make a joke about an HR leader not being a “normal” leader (and there are plenty), keep in mind that HR leaders tend to face greater pressure and scrutiny for their leadership behaviors. Our mistakes sometimes echo more than the mistakes of others.  We are held to a higher standard because we should know better. Even though we’re human like everyone else.


So how can HR leaders get better? A few thoughts:

  • Stop trying to get people to like/notice/appreciate/praise/[insert verb here] you: If you got into leadership for all the cupcakes and unicorns, you made a HUGE mistake. Leaders rarely get the day-to-day kudos, and HR hardly ever gets them. You need to be okay with that.  You need to understand that a job well done in HR leadership means you know you’ve done the right thing and you’ve done it correctly…and it’s okay that no one threw a parade.
  • Keep the lines of communication open: Employees get creative when nobody tells them anything (especially in times of high change). You should hear some of the whoppers coming out of employee break rooms!  Give them an avenue to voice their opinions, and share what you can as often as you can.  They may not always believe you, but later on they’ll appreciate the effort.
  • But don’t overshare: This is a common mistake of newer managers and HR professionals who are very close to their business partners.  You want to liked.  You want to help. And sometimes lapses in judgment cause a LOT of problems. HR in particular needs to present a united front.  If HR has been asked to keep a confidence and someone slips, two things happen – 1.) you’ve taught the business it pays to answer-shop, and 2.) you’ve lost credibility as an HR leader.
  • Seek alignment: We are all running in so many different directions and are easily pulled into our little corner of the HR world.  The best thing HR leaders can do for themselves is TALK TO EACH OTHER. What is everyone working on? How does it impact the other areas of HR? What are risks we might be overlooking in our own projects? Employees (HR and others) notice when HR leaders are not on the same page and they may try to take advantage of it.  Besides, we might get our work done more efficiently if we actually work together.
  • Build a (positive) support network: I’ve talked about building a personal board of directors before. I still highly recommend it. What I also recommend is that you seek out some people who are in your organization who totally get where you’re coming from…and will NOT resort to a bitch-fest every time you get together to chat. You know why I would write a post for Steve Browne whenever he asks?  Because he is the most positive HR professional I have ever encountered. Even in the darkest of situations and the most FUBAR implementations, he shakes it off and works to find a solution.  And I love that about him, and believe more of us need to be like that. Snark may be funny (and it totally is), but moving forward makes the HR world go round.
  • Meet people where they are: Okay, I totally stole this one from Steve, too, but I love it.  I think it was a quick line in a presentation he made but it has stayed with me as one of the best pieces of advice any leader – HR or otherwise – can accept. If you meet people where they are; be it their learning curve or change acceptance; you increase your chances of making a connection.  With that connection comes trust…and trust can move mountains.

So there you have it – a few suggestions on how HR leaders can make themselves, and ultimately their business, better.

HR Tip #007: ‘Not everyone is going to like you.’

What would you add to the list? Share in the comments below!