Failing Forward, Fast, and Frequently

Create a culture of risk takers. Of people willing to speak up. Of people not afraid to make mistakes. When people feel safe, they free their mind to have space to be creative. They are not wasting precious brain cells worrying. They can let it all flow. The pace of change is faster than ever, so if you and your organization don’t want to be left in the dust it is critical to enable a culture where failure isn’t a dirty word. What we want is people who fail fast. Don’t get into analysis paralysis to call a spade a spade, to let something that didn’t as planned go, and move on. In the immortal words for Frozen, “Let It Go”. All failure propels us forward. As Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And all of those 10,000 ways providing inspiration and insight for what ultimately does work. Failing frequently; Make it play, make work a sandbox. When you fail often it becomes less mysterious. People see that the sky doesn’t fall, and they become open to take risks. No one lost their job, no one was scolded or shamed. We all still move forward toward the common vision.

It reminds of an exercise I learned at a relatively young age (thanks mom) when my anxiety would take hold. I would be worrying and ruminating over something and I would go through the “then what?” exercise. If this happened, then what would happen, and then what, and then what… and go all the way down until I couldn’t think of anything more. At the end of my ‘then whats’ no one died, we are all safe with a roof over our head, and although yes maybe things would change, it would be ok. The worst of my concerns turned out to not be so bad after all. I think the exercise for me was more about getting it all out of my head rather than seeing the implications. PS try journaling if you suffer like I do. When you think about what the biggest concern you have about failure is, you may realize, uhmm nothing catastrophic happens….

Being able to build a culture of psychological safety also means empowering people. The need for a cultural norm that Thomas Edison had the right idea. There are no failures, there are only learnings. Each action we take propels us forward. A true growth mindset. Another way to obtain this culture is with transparency. Transparency for leaders to stand up and say, “this is what I did, I didn’t work, this is what I learned, and it’s ok”. Role modeling. Huge. Showing vulnerability. Huge. What if we could imagine our lives as a science lab, trying new things, identifying quickly what doesn’t work, learning, then putting it behind us, taking what does work, what does make us and the people around us feel good, what gets us closer to the vision for ourselves and our organization, the growth would be remarkable!

I invite you to try something new, either in your personal life or professional work. When we aren’t worried about it not going perfectly we can open ourselves to new experiences that feed our growth and learning.

 “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” ~Robert H. Schuller

PS. You have now received your daily dose of Disney songs if you click on the links. Happy Friday Eve!

Published by rachaelsarahgass

Working mom, wife, friend, sister, organizational psychologist, learner, coach. Kindness Counts. People First. Integrity Always.

%d bloggers like this: