Deborah Lubbe: Wife to an amazing South African who challenges and inspires me daily, 1/2 yuppy + 1/2 hippie = 1/2 yippy, faithful NPR listener, lover of to-do lists, learning I am not in control of the universe and to be a bit more messy, favorite smells: summer rain on hot pavements and old books.
While chatting over a large plate of Hyderbadi Biryani (famous rice dish) a good friend recently told me that they pride themselves in not making mistakes. This set me to thinking about mistakes and the value, if any, we place on them. So often I believe our mistakes are not given the credit they deserve. Yes, I am saying that our mistakes, our failures, should be highlighted rather than tossed aside or shoved into the back of our mental closets.
Why do successes get all of the attention? Yes yes, I understand achieved goals should be celebrated and acknowledged, on the other hand, what about the attempts at success that demonstrate for us the things to NOT do again?
Think about this for a moment. Both academia and business research tends to only recognize experiments or trials with profitable results. Now, of course we all understand the value in expressing what works and sharing it with others. BUT, what if we also shared what doesn’t work as well. What IF we shared our failures just as openly as we tweet our successes?
My latest tweet would read something like “Dialogue with Indian principal bombed today…again. #frustratedwhileworkingabroad “
What if there were more forums, newsletters, papers, symposiums, and meetings that instead of broadcasting individual successes, rather proclaimed setbacks and failures for the purpose of creating new ideas from the old ones that were slightly broken? Creatives could utilize these spaces and create cross-collaborative environments and find the gaps in the business models, marketing strategies, processes, or in the charity that simply has fallen into mission drift.
I recently came across a quote from the Creativity World Forum of 2011, which says
“Failure is necessary. Failure is the key to a creative success. If you never fail, you can never be creative.”
Operating in a global space where development is constantly evolving and targets are missed daily, due to factors beyond one’s control, generates a mindset in which it is easy to sweep failures under the rug undetected. However, I am beginning to value the disappointments and failures as check posts for my own progress. They allow me to reflect on what doesn’t work, and adjust my strategy for development and stretch myself to become more creative.
In response to my dear friend’s comment of “I pride myself on not making mistakes” I suggested shifting their perspective to “ I pride myself on the ability to utilize my mistakes for further creativity and progress”.
What failure have you shared with another organization or individual that produced new ideas or a different approach to a problem, challenge, or obstacle in your social benefit space?