Failures cost us virtually nothing when we take photos with our digital cameras, yet failures cost us plenty when our banks make bad loans. Our political leaders fail us when the only agreement they reach is raising our debt ceiling allowing themselves to continue spending.
We hear that our creative spirit can save us all and according to conventional wisdom, to innovate we need to take fearless risks and be open to: “fail now,” “fail today,” “fail this afternoon,” ”fail tomorrow,” “fail often.” A recent Wall Street Journal headline reads
“Better Ideas Through Failure: Companies Reward Employee Mistakes to Spur Innovation, Get Back Their Edge.”
I wonder if even George Eastman would have thought failure has become overexposed. Are we producing an entrepreneurial culture or a culture of failure? Are we getting too comfortable with failure?
Of course we don’t expect to paint a masterpiece the first time we
walk across a stage, and we shouldn’t be afraid of trial and error. Are we justifying and celebrating too many of our errors as we say: “At least I got the interview,” “it was an honor to be nominated,” “what a great experience,” “I met so many interesting people,” or “we designed a great product that was ahead of its time.” In our winner take all society; ask Al Gore, barnesandnoble.com or yahoo what second place is like. Remember that we can learn from our successes too!
“Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing.” described Vince Lombardi in an earlier era. In our acceptance of some inevitable failures, we can’t lose the will to win! Winning is the only option when the game is on, and only after the whistle blows can we allow for acceptance of failure and lessons learned. If you go into a supermarket expecting that you won’t find Key Limes, you probably won’t. When we expect failure, we give up too soon.
Your secret plan
- Start without concern about failing.
- Play to win! And failure is not an option!
- Evaluate your wins or losses for learned lessons.
What was your biggest mistake that you used to make a towering success? Or what is your biggest success and what did you learn?