In business, we tend to view mistakes as a setback. We see them as glitches, hold-ups, bottlenecks, and things that keep us (and our organizations) from achieving the way we feel we should be.
As such, mistakes are often harshly dealt with. We create punishments and reprimands for dealing with them, creating a fear of failure and a culture that is constantly worried about breaking the system or compromising the process.
People are afraid to fail. They’re afraid to make an error.
That’s a mistake.
Failure = Opportunity
First, let’s redefine mistakes from “errors” to “miss-takes” – attempts that didn’t go as planned. Yes, we tried – but it didn’t go quite right. Now, there’s an opportunity to learn from that experience and an opportunity to identify ways to grow, change and improve!
With any skill – say, piano playing – we need to fail thousands of times before we play a song perfectly. These mistakes are not deliberate, they simply come as we learn and constantly improve. That’s the attitude to adopt with your organization: That as long as mistakes are recognized and used to improve, they’re okay. You can move on.
Failure = Experience
In Silicon Valley, thousands of ideas are born every day and thousands of business pitches will go out every year. As venture capitalists evaluate ideas and the entrepreneurs behind them, they actually LIKE to see that the entrepreneur has failed two or three times.
Because if someone has failed, they have the experience of failure and the understanding of how to move through that failure. They’ve become a more resilient, more robust entrepreneur. In fact, most entrepreneurs only break through after multiple failed ideas and iterations – that persistence pays off.
In other words, they fail forward. They run towards a goal, and even if they stumble a few times along the way, they’re constantly learning and improving.
The trick is to stop beating up on ourselves – and those we work with – for failures.
To keep the entrepreneurial, innovative spirit alive, make failure an accepted part of your business. It’s not a setback – it’ll keep you forging ahead!
See our video on this topic by clicking here (new window).