When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.
George Bernard Shaw
If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.
I took part in a small, short staff retreat today. Our executive director asked us a simple question: why did we come to work every day? What made our work compelling to us?
It was interesting to listen to my colleagues’ answers. We shared our joys and our frustrations. And we agreed that no one felt the need for defensiveness. It was good to realize that we don’t set up very many silos. And we’re not competing with one another. There’s room to try. We don’t always have to win.
Our executive director summed it up. “We need to fail. We can’t be afraid of failing. If we’re not failing, we’re not growing and learning.”
She’s right. And it’s something I’ve heard from other smart and brave leaders.
Think about how we build failure into our work. We test our appeals. We ask people to give us money – and risk being rejected. Our colleagues on the program side of the organization try new things. (We hope.) Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we don’t. Often the failures have much more to teach us.
So, have you failed today?