“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything innovative.” Woody Allen
At work and at life we often get caught in ruts. Something works for us, so we do it again and again. And again. We know we’ve reduced our chances of making a mistake or failing, and that feels good.
I’ve seen careers stagnate, relationships founder, businesses falter – all because we keep doing the same thing over and over. All three of these need creativity – “fresh blood” – to keep them growing and thriving, yet with creativity comes the chance of falling on your face. So we do what is safe and we lessen our chances of failure, but we also lessen our chances for amazing growth and potential.
I shared this quote with a colleague once – a Vice President of a Fortune 50 company – and his reaction was immediate and intense. “Wow,” he said, “This really hits home. I haven’t been failing, nor allowing my team to fail, and I thought that was great. But this makes me realize that we also haven’t been trying new things…and that won’t work.”
This is true in our business as well. Much of the work we do involves standing in front of a room and facilitating learning and development in a variety of areas. We can get caught in using the same lessons, lectures, examples, exercises, etc., but the reality is this approach can stagnate us as well. If we’re not trying new things, even at the risk of falling on our face, we’re not learning and growing. Our learning and growth helps us bring our clients to an even greater place of learning and growth. Our creativity allows us to help our clients embrace creativity. So we double and triple-check to make sure we’re always innovating, investigating new research and concepts, taking on new perspectives, and trying new approaches – all to do our best to continue our growth and to offer our best to our clients, and all with the risk that perhaps something new we’re trying won’t work.
Perhaps it’s ok to fail every now and then. To fall on your face, as long as you’re trying new things. I think of a one-year-old learning to walk. They fall all the time. They try and fail and try again. No one scolds them for making a mistake. Instead we clap our hands and smile, encouraging them over and over again to get back up, try again, fail another time, and keep going. Because that’s the way they’ll learn – by trying something new, by experimenting, by being willing to fail and fall, and by having fun with it along the way.
How can you bring more creativity and innovation to your work and your life? What are you willing to try – and how are you willing to fail? Find an area at work or at home where you can be more innovative. Decide what you’re going to try, and go for it! If you “fail,” clap your hands, smile, and try again.