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The Other "F" Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work by John Danner, Mark Coopersmith

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img2The Other F Word“Failure” Is Such a Loaded Word

FAILURE

Stand back from that word a bit.

Think about it.

What experiences or memories does it bring to your mind?

How does it make you feel?

Chances are the word “failure” triggers all sorts of negative connotations for you, and maybe a few positive ones. It's a very powerful word—often loaded with intense emotions, strong memories, and conflicting interpretations. Most of us don't like to talk about it, admit when it happens, or spend much time in its company.

Take a look at this (partial) list of synonyms and examples of failure1:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Breakdown
  • Collapse
  • Defeat
  • Catastrophe
  • Mistake
  • Loss
  • Misstep
  • Crash and burn
  • Bomb
  • Botch
  • Bungle
  • Bust
  • Zero
  • Downfall
  • Fiasco
  • Flop
  • Bad move
  • Implosion
  • Lemon
  • Loser
  • Mess
  • Disaster
  • Screw-up
  • Stalemate
  • Turkey
  • Washout
  • Wreck
  • False step
  • Faux pas
  • Flash in the pan
  • Lead balloon
  • Sinking ship

From bankruptcy to sinking ship, there's not an upbeat word or phrase in the whole bunch! No wonder “failure” has become a linguistic pariah in many organizations; it's either not discussed or it's disguised with euphemisms, but that doesn't fool anyone. People know failure when they create it or see it.

As authors, we struggle with the other F word ourselves. When we were circulating our proposal for this book, one publisher reflexively turned us down because they thought having the word “failure” in the subtitle would ...

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