In life and in work.

The first and most obvious type of failure is the “preventable failure,” which is essentially what it sounds like: a failure that you had the knowledge and ability to prevent.

Most failures in this category can indeed be considered “bad,” says Edmondson. She writes in Harvard Business Review:

“They usually involve deviations from spec in the closely defined processes of high-volume or routine operations in manufacturing and services. With proper training and support, employees can follow those processes consistently. When they don’t, deviance, inattention, or lack of ability is usually the reason. But in such cases, the causes can be readily identified and solutions developed.”

Outside the professional realm, a preventable failure may be getting a bad grade on a test for which you didn’t study, even though you understood the subject matter. Or angering your roommate by not cleaning the bathroom sink, even though it was your responsibility to do so. Feeling bad about yourself after such a failure is reasonable, and often necessary, because the error is usually the result of laziness, entitlement, or a reluctance to follow instructions.

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