If failure is seen as not achieving success then anything other than perfection can be seen as failure. Let’s go back to school for this one. If you get 100 on a course then I think it is safe to say that you’ve succeeded. But have you succeeded if you only get an 80%, or a 60%, or a 50%?
Failure is set at below 50% but then 50% is successful. So I guess failure is as much of a value judgement as success is.
This is why defining success is so important in the workplace. An overachiever will bust her gut to get something perfect and think anything less is failure when “just good enough” is really what you wanted.
On the other hand, a slacker will put no effort in and not even reach “just good enough” and think he has nailed it.
Inevitably the overachiever will burn out and leave feeling they can never do enough and all you’ll be left with is slackers.
And then you’ll really know what failure looks like.