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Why Failure is the Biggest Success

"Treat challenges as opportunities: They are the key to improving your game." - Yuko Kon, Director, Communication & Utility Industry Sales, Japan

One of the toughest things to do in life is to reflect on our actions and realize that we could have done a better job. Often we find ourselves justifying our actions either by blaming others or our circumstances.

Yoko Kon is not one of those people. She is driven by the need to constantly re-evaluate her life and her decisions and think about what she could have done better in each situation. Candidly, Yoko says that she has learned more from failure than from success and because of this, is not afraid of making mistakes. This mindset has led to her

“Once you accept this mindset, you look at every challenge as an opportunity to learn,” observes Yoko. “Instead of running away from challenges, embrace them. Your learning starts there.”

This mindset has led to her many accomplishments and advancement to current role as Director of Communication & Utility Industry Sales for Oracle Japan. As a manager Yoko tries to impart this principle to her team, as well as through her membership of Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL). By acknowledging that she doesn’t know everything and can’t have all the answers, Yoko has built her team on the value of cooperation. In Yoko’s team it’s OK not to know something and ask for help—that’s how the team becomes wiser and stronger. “I learn a lot from my team. We all share our problems and, more importantly, how we are overcome them. We help each other to be better at what we do.”

The notion of “paying it forward” is foundational for OWL members, and a key component of our upcoming celebration of International Women’s Day.  So we asked Yoko to share more advice on how to bring this practice to life.

How can we check in to see if we did our best in any situation?

It is very human to feel like giving up when things get tough—or even to try blame others.

What you need to do instead in this situation is “check in on yourself.” Reflect on the situations that don’t go as had you planned. Could you have done something better? Worked harder? Prepared better? This kind of self-reflection helps you to accept failure and constantly improve. If we live in denial of our challenges, we will never learn from them and those mistakes are bound to happen again.

Why are challenges important at the workplace?

Treat challenges as opportunities: They are the key to improving your game. It’s important to learn from the process of achieving a particular result. I’ve realized that making mistakes is an indicator that you are innovating and trying new things. I try to learn from both failures and successes and I believe that I have had more failures than successes.

What are some of the challenges you have faced at work and how did you overcome them?

Whenever I take up a new role, I face a lot of challenges. I think everybody feels overwhelmed with new roles and responsibilities. But the important thing is to try and push those fears aside and embrace every new role as a learning process. Another thing I always do is prepare. If I have to speak at a big conference, I write my script in advance which gives me more confidence. I constantly check in with myself to see if I am giving my best to each situation. When I know I’m doing that, I see positive results.

How did you start this practice?

When I started work, I faced an uphill task: I was a sales representative who was not very successful at closing deals quickly. I had to think of a new way of getting better at work. I started looking back at the deals I had closed and thought about what I could improve. After applying the same self-reflection exercise on several deals, I realized this practice was helping me evaluate my performance and helping me perform better on the next deal. I could only do this because I took the time to realize that I was not doing well at closing deals. Accepting my weakness was the first step. Then I was able to recognize my challenges and where I could improve.

You enjoy playing golf—has this strategy helped you there as well?

Absolutely. Golf is just like life. We go out to give our best to each game but sometimes we can’t avoid external circumstances like rain and wind. I think of things that could go wrong and I prepare for them. I also look back at each game and think about what I could have done better— it improves my game every single time.

If you’d like to work in an environment that encourages you to take risks, innovate and grow, explore careers at Oracle.

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