In an attempt to reduce mistakes and failures and to increase the rate of success, people who manage or coach others often tell them: “You need to operate as if ‘Failure is not an option’.”
There’s nothing wrong with that type of mindset; it’s actually quite valuable. I spent years trying to acquire that mindset myself. At some point I realized, however, that if you take that admonition literally, innovation is virtually impossible to achieve.
Success is never guaranteed when you’re
trying something new
It is virtually impossible to do something brand new—to innovate, or to create from scratch—without failing at least some of the time. You’ve got to be willing to make mistakes and fail if you want to do something new, something for which there is no tried and true method for success.
This is why the beliefs Mistakes and failure are bad and If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected are so pernicious. They make one afraid to do anything that might result in a mistake or failure, which precludes the possibility of true innovation.
I’m not suggesting that you should deliberately make mistakes or try to fail; I’m saying you need to be willing to make mistakes and fail. Do all the appropriate research and gathering of information; get input from others when necessary; use your best thinking; be willing to trust your intuition. And then be willing to accept and learn from something less than what you intended if that’s what occurs despite your best efforts.
Unintended results can always be a
valuable learning experience
You either achieve what you intended or you do not. If you do, great. If you do not, you have the opportunity to learn from the result and make adjustments in an attempt to come closer to your goal the next time. And often when what you achieve isn’t what you originally intended, you might achieve something that is even more useful or valuable that the original intended result.
Here’s what I suggest
First, eliminate the beliefs Mistakes and failure are bad and If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected. Then take some chances and start whatever you’ve been putting off starting. If you don’t get the result you wanted, don’t use the phrases “I made a mistake” and “I failed.” Instead, ask yourself the question, “What can I learn from this experience?” And then, try again. Repeat these steps until you notice one day that you are amazed with all you have done that you had never done before.
Thanks for reading my blog. Please post your questions or comments about my contention that failure needs to be an option; it is an inevitable consequence of an innovative life. Disagreement is as welcome as agreement. Your comments add value for thousands of readers. I love to read them all and I will respond to as many as I can.
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