There is a lot of talk these days about “fail-friendly environments”, especially in the context of innovation and product development. Why is that? And how does this concept relate to leadership?
Mistakes are a way which does not take you directly to your goal, your purpose. They are deviations from your original mission. If I ask clients what mistakes mean to them, I mostly get the answer that a mistake is something which is wrong. And wrong means that something is not the way it should be, is not true, or is not real.
Do you remember my last post? How many realities do we have? As many as we take perspectives. So from this angle, a mistake is just an interpretation. You can interpret something as a mistake, or as a step.
There is this really nice quote, posted all over the place these days: “You can never make a mistake”. I do not know if it is true, but it is supposed to be from Einstein. Which is well possible, because this guy wrote many nice things about how you can understand the world, and make the best of it.
Why this quote, you can never make a mistake? I understand it this way: Imagine a baby taking his first steps. What happens? He falls many times, until he gets the balance right. For more stability, he has to try again and again. He cannot walk yet, he has to learn it. In this case nobody would say, this baby is doing something wrong. Of course falling is a deviation from the original mission of walking, but it is necessary to learn and continue. And the baby is happy which each step he takes, with his achievements, with a bigger smile every time.
We forget very often in our daily routine how important it is to try different things to learn something new. The easiest way to avoid mistakes is to keep doing what you have been doing. But if we always do the same, things are not going to change, and develop. If you want something new, you have to go for new ways you never tried before. Innovation requires mistakes.
What is holding us back from taking a new step, from doing something we never tried before? What is it? Fear?
Whenever we have a moment of desperation, when we do not know how to keep going, when we are afraid of what it is going to happen, we have to consider decisions different from what we normally do… so it is completely natural that we feel fear. We do not know how it is going to go. We are afraid to make a mistake… At the same time, these are exactly the moments where we can really start to be creative, when we can try different things — and make mistakes to learn — and when we can take big steps to grow, to develop. In this moment, when we have to act in a new way, we can choose how to move on. Without crisis, there is often no progress. Without disagreement, there is no discussion. Without discussions, there is no investigation, no productivity, no development, no growth.
A leader views mistakes, crises, and disagreements as necessary, even helpful steps for improvement. These situations are opportunities for growth. Therefore, a great leader strives to create a “fail-friendly” environment — one without fear of mistakes.
Are you ready to discover your full potential — your authentic you? Lead.You.Up! Start with yourself!