To Fail is to Learn, Weinzimmer Book Receives National Recognition

December 9, 2013

By Sarah Marshall, '15

Dr. Larry Weinzimmer tackles the taboo subject of failure in his book “The Wisdom of Failure,” which won a 2013 Axiom Business Book Award for leadership. The awards are divided into 21 categories and are dedicated to identifying the best business books in North America. 

“It was very gratifying to win the Axiom Award and to be given impartial external recognition for my achievements,” said Weinzimmer. 

In today’s culture, there is often no room for mistakes. An organization’s reputation is based on its outstanding history of success, and when a CEO makes a mistake, his/her job can be taken simply for the blight that has been placed on their organization. Weinzimmer believes that ignoring the existence of errors leads to poor leadership decisions in the future. 

“Perfectionism is one of the biggest deterrents to learning from mistakes. We become so fixated on not failing that we never move forward,” Weinzimmer says in the book.

“The Wisdom of Failure” focuses on the mistakes that past and present CEOs have made and how aspiring leaders from various disciplines can learn from these mistakes. 

Leadership books often document the successes of current and past leaders. Books want their readers to imitate the actions that led other people to the road of success, but every person’s path is different and success cannot be replicated through the repetition of actions. Instead, success should be viewed as a journey of trial and error, learning which strategies work and which do not. 

Not only did the book debut at No. 3 on The Wall Street Journal’s best seller list, but it also influenced the author.

“When something doesn’t go right, I look for lessons and when other people make mistakes,” Weinzimmer said. “I try to be more accepting and see them as opportunities rather than failures.” 

Though Weinzimmer isn’t actively working on another book, he likely will pen one in the future.

He is motivated to write books when he sees disconnects within his discipline.

“Dr. Weinzimmer’s book is a great example of how our faculty’s research can strengthen the department,” said Dr. Ross Fink, the chair of the leadership and management department.