Risk and Failure – Part 1

If at first you don’t succeed…


Most home-run hitters also strike out a lot.  When you tee off on a pitch with enough power to knock it clear the park, you’re also going to miss…a lot.

Most big success stories start with a lot of failures.  They had to screw it up before they got it right,

Apple was recently named the most valuable brand in the world.  Just over a decade ago Apple would have collapsed if Microsoft hadn’t bailed them out.  Now everyone has an iPod, and you can’t give away a Zune.

But “failure” is still a bad word. Tell people they need to fail more often, and they’ll look at you like an idiot.  When teaching improv, we tell students to fail good-naturedly, but even in a safe environment, our bodies and minds resist – we don’t want to fail, and we definitely don’t want to fail with other people looking on.

Personal confession: I was putting together a syllabus for corporate improv trainings sessions and a very good, very smart friend insisted that I lose the word “failure” thinking people would think I’m an idiot to teach failure – people want to learn to succeed, not fail, right?

But failure is a critical part of innovation and creativity.  To find something truly new in any marketplace, you’re going to fail many more times than you succeed.

“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”
Robin Williams

The good news: fail all you want; success built on those failures will make them fade into distant memory.

So how do we learn to fail?  How do we learn to recover from failure?  And how do we find a way to keep risking more failure after we’ve failed?

I’ll talk about that in part 2.