My team and I were sweating as we walked into a large conference room. Though we’d rehearsed our talking points, nothing could settle the sick feeling in our gut that we had failed our largest customer. We sat down, we thanked our customer, I made the opening comment and then passed it off to my technical expert to unfold what had happened and why. While we prepared to walk out of there with our tail between our legs, I didn’t expect what happened next…

But first, let’s turn our attention to you…

You’re reading this article because the word “failure” resonated with you. I’ve never met a single personal who has not experienced failure in some form. Whether it’s a devastating blow or minor inconvenience, the most important part of mastering failure is to leave a lasting positive impact. This is only possible if you break down the situation into what happened, the lesson that you learned and how you took proactive action moving forward.

I never think of failing forward, but moving forward with grace. That’s the ability to keep a level head at times of adversity, and see the path forward while guiding your team to success.

Next time you fail big, take these 3 steps:

  • Pause and reflect on what happened. This speaks to your self leadership
  • Plan for what you can do now to lessen the impact and get your team focused on the immediate actions. This speaks to the leadership your team needs now.  
  • Seek the high road and realize the gift that you just received. You have gained insight into a significant issue that you can not only resolve for the long term, but also see gaps in your systems to prevent in the future. This speaks to the leadership your organization needs to realize how to sustain the gains you have made. 

When you take the time to realize the “issue,” while it may be significant, it is an opportunity for you to lead and potentially leave a lasting impact far greater than the situation at hand.

So what happened in that conference room?

Upon completing our presentation and the requisite questioning and polite interrogation, we had concluded our time with the customer. What happened next though we never expected. The customer said in light of the unfortunate situation, they agreed with our analysis and had they been in the same situation, they would have done the same thing. They also moved the conversation to one of partnership; offering their services if we were ever faced with a technical challenge again. We had successfully converted an adversarial situation into one of collaboration. 

This all came from the quiet & calm leadership style needed to guide the team and the customer from one of crisis to one of confidence.


I’d like to make a special shout-out to this week’s podcast guest, John Baldoni, who discussed Grace Under Pressure and served as my inspiration for this article. 

I have been in many situations where my experience and insight may help you. All it takes is some courage to reach out and start a conversation. Together we can elevate you, your team and your organization. Let’s book a call to see how The Drop in CEO can support you. 

To learn more about this topic and others, please join The CEO’s Compass waitlist to learn more about the book and the 7-point assessment to get you back on track. 

If you’re simply looking for weekly insights and inspiration from industry leaders, check out The Drop in CEO podcast and become part of our growing community. 

Good reads: 

Free PR by Cameron Herold

Everything you need to know to get the press you need to stand out and build credibility

Good music:

Kevin Penkin

Specifically – Wake Up, Moving on… a very refreshing and uplifting piece.  I recently found him and it gets me into my creative flow. 

Most inspirational Podcast Guest I spoke to this week:

Amy McDonald, CEO of Starwest Botanicals, LLC

An accomplished professional in the Flavor & CBD industry; but Human-Centric at the core and elevates people to their fullest potential. Her episode airs July 16th; stay tuned!