Fastcompany's Polly LaBarre recently sat down with Clayton Christensen to discuss his thinking on innovation and leadership today in "The Industrialized Revolution." Her interview covers a lot of ground, including his current quest to discover the secret to lasting success, but one point that he made about how leaders learn to succeed struck me -- "Success, he argues, is the worst teacher of success." While success stories aren't necessarily bad things, they can lull today's managers into thinking that if they do things the same way as those "best practice" companies, then they'll succeed as well.
Are lessons in success the best teachers? On Inc.com, we receive loads of comments about inspirational success stories, but we also hear our fair share when we run stories about "failure." Most recently, the July 2003 story, "If at First You Don't Succeed" struck a chord with readers, as many could relate to the entrepreneur's trials and tribulations, and took away lessons from the story. And an older column in Inc. called "My Biggest Mistake" used to offer lessons in overcoming bad decisions made by successful entrepreneurs each month.
Where do you find your most valuable lessons? Is it in the successes, or failures, of others?