I’ve been to a several offsite marketing summits over the past few months, and I have really enjoyed them all. Aside from being great opportunities to network and build relationships, they each have offered a great learning experience as well. Each and every time.
While each one has been completely different, there has been a common theme that has not gone unnoticed on me. A theme that I’m not too familiar with, to be completely honest, since it’s a theme that runs in stark contrast to how I’ve managed my career.
We need to offer “permission to fail.”
Say what? Failure? “Failure” has never been in my vocabulary. Failure has never been an option. I’ve never thought about failure being a possibility in my career. But that was me back then, trying to come up the ranks of the corporate ladder and trying to show that I had what it takes to take it all on.
That was then, this is now. The business world was different back then.
Now I’ve got some experience under my belt and we operate as a business culture differently than when I started my career. We didn’t take a lot of risks back in those days because we were taught to stay on the proven track. It worked for a while but times are different now.
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Now we have to take risks if we are going to remain competitive and accomplish our business goals. We have to take risks if we are going to stand out in the market…both for our business and for our careers. The tried and true no longer works.
Now we have to take risks to get things done. Staying on a proven track doesn’t move you forward anymore. Not as a business professional or as a business.
Here’s the rub…taking risks inherently means making mistakes. Taking risks inherently means potentially failing.
It’s still foreign to me, to be honest, but I understand the difference now. I need to create a culture where people are willing to make mistakes and take risks. I have to accept what comes from that, even if it means accepting the kinds of risk that can lead to potential mistakes.
I have to learn to live with the potential of failure in order to move forward. I have to let people do their work in their own manner, even if there are mistakes in the process. Even if their own manner isn’t necessarily the tried and true. Even if their own manner isn’t the way that I would do it.
Why, you might say?
Well maybe, just maybe, they might be right. Maybe their ideas are really going to break through, better than what’s been done before. Maybe their way of doing things is better than my tried and true.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Well there’s only one way to find out…let them try. Let them take a risk and maybe make a mistake. And maybe fail. Or maybe not.
Because the more they try, the more successful they will be. The more successful we all will be.
So now my job is to create the right environment for people to thrive as opposed to an environment that knows exactly what it’s doing because it’s been done before. I need to create an environment that includes a permission to fail.
Because “permission to fail” might actually bring about the ultimate in success.