Failure is supposed to be a bad thing, right? Why would we want to celebrate it? 


As we discussed in the previous article, failure is an opportunity to assess the undertaking and decide what needs to be changed in order to move forward or to decide to start over. It is a sign that we took a risk that didn’t pay off, and we could celebrate that attempt! If we only celebrate the good outcomes, we will create a culture of people unwilling to try something new for fear of failing at it. 

The culture of an organization is found in what it honors and shames: in what it celebrates and punishes. 

There are two cultures that we can end up in: a Don’t-Make-A-Mistake Culture or a Create-Something Culture. 

Two Cultures

In a Don’t-Make-A-Mistake Culture, it’s easy for the focus to become a game of blame shifting and avoiding mistakes rather than actually pursuing the There of the organization. Employees are more concerned with saving face than they are about contributing to the mission. If mistakes are shamed and perfection is honored, then members will never take healthy risks for fear that it will result in a failure they will have to face the heavy consequences for. 

In a Create-Something Culture, failures are viewed as an inevitable part of the creative process. Innovation is celebrated and therefore failure is celebrated as a part of the road to innovation. Because employees are not worried about being punished for incidental mistakes, they are freed up to work towards the mission of the organization. They spend their time contributing to the There instead of being caught up in office politics. 

A Don’t-Make-A-Mistake Culture will be the default unless you intentionally celebrate failure to form a Create-Something Culture 

Remember, an organization is two or more people who have come together for a common purpose. So these two cultures don’t only show up in companies and workplaces, but in our families, friendship groups, teams, and churches. 

What We Celebrate

In your family, do you praise your children more for when they do something perfectly on the first try or for when they try their best at something new, even when they fail at first. Studies show that children who are praised for perfection are likely to develop a Fixed Mindset instead of a Growth Mindset when it comes to their ability to develop new skills in the future. 

In your church, do you celebrate the woman who shows up in her best dress or the one who showed up late but came anyway. 

We have the opportunity to shift the cultures around us from a Don’t-Make-A-Mistake Culture into a Create-Something Culture by celebrating the things we want to see repeated. By celebrating our failures, we encourage others to strive to take risks and learn from their mistakes. 

Gracie McBride is the Content and Systems Management Coordinator for The Crossroad.