Does Wrong Equal Failure?

One of the cornerstone moments of my school days was being made to stand in the corner in 4th class because I gave the wrong answer to a question.

Fortunately I recovered and now look forward to the mistakes I make.

Yet it could have been otherwise and has been for many people.

Our school system in the western world far too often focuses on getting it right and punishes those who don't. And whilst the goal to get it right is important we also need to celebrate those who make mistakes. Why? Mistakes are where genuine creativity and original thought comes from.

Sir Ken Robinson in his highly entertaining 2006 presentation to TED stated that, "if you're not prepared to be wrong you'll never come up with anything original".

Urban legend has it that a junior employee walked into his boss's office with his resignation in hand after having made a mistake that cost the company $5 million. His boss, who recognized the value of mistakes, refused to accept the resignation stating that, as he had just spent $5 million on training the employee, he wanted to get a return on his investment.

Wow! Imagine working for that boss!

Yet what do we so often see in similar situations? Someone punished, in one form or another, for making a mistake.

If punishment is meant to deter someone from doing the same again it certainly works in those situations. The punished employee will work very hard from now on to avoid mistakes. He or she will not take any risks; they will avoid suggesting alternative methods; steer clear of revolutionary ideas; stay silent at brainstorming sessions; and general stay well within their "comfort zone".

In an enlightening blog entitled "The Fine Art of Making Mistakes", Dragos Roua lists "The Seven Rules of Making Mistakes". Worth reading as he makes some good argument for doing just that - making mistakes - and then knowing how to learn from such a practice.

The world of business is littered with people who have gone broke on more than one occasion - read made a mistake - and then gone on to be very successful. Henry Ford and Walt Disney are just two.

So what is your approach to making mistakes?


Do you willingly experiment with ideas even though they may "crash and burn"?

Or are you someone who "tiptoes carefully through life so you can make it safely to death"?

Geoff Kirkwood - Challenge The Impossible!

Amanda Hamilton

amandahamilton-243510

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Thomas Eddison is the man. When why he bothered to keep going with his lightbulb idea when it had already failed 1,000 times his answer was immediate - "I didn't fail at all, it was a 1,000 step process." If I honestly thought that not being able to do ashtanga jump backs or jump throughs immediately was because I got it wrong and am therefore a failure, when it has taken people far fitter or stronger than me up to 6 years to build enough physical strength and belief to even begin to do it, then I would give up now and never truly learn what I am capable of doing. How do babies learn to walk? By trying and getting their balance wrong, their timing wrong, their weight distribution wrong ... and each of those "mistakes" are not mistakes at all, they are key parts of the learning process to getting upright.

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Edwin Huang

edwinhuang-491303

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Geoff, Your message is a positive way of looking at it. One, however, does need to look at this in other ways. What are the consequences of making the mistakes? Many mistakes only affect or hurt oneself. Fine, no problem; just get up again. Imagine, though, you are a surgeon and kill a patient. Would you assume the patient's family will say "oh well, you won't make that mistake again so you can carry on practising" (i.e. the return on investment in your urban tale)? Or is it more likely that you will be hauled before a disciplinary panel and sanctioned? Even if it is found that you were not grossly negligent or incompetent, the resultant publicity could be sufficient to ruin your career. Many professions, including mine, are like this latter scenario: regulation-heavy and prone to litigious clients. Other professions do not face these type of consequences. How often has, say, a mentor or a coach been sued for 'wrong' advice? As John, above, says "The other issue is 'consequences'. There have to be consequences for inappropriate decisions or behaviours. The secret is to address the issue, arrange remedial action if appropriate." Yup, sometimes the remedial action is jail and professional ruin. If you are ultimately successful then past failures don't really matter - as Branson et al have proved. But would you choose to be a patient of a surgeon whose last patient died on his operating table? It really depends on the sector you are operating in. Edwin Edwin Huang CTA FCCA +44(0)7914 412 258 Argentum Consulting Limited: Strategic Tax Advisers Providing Tax Planning Advice for HNWs and Corporates - making you better off by saving you tax

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Ann Andrews CSP

annandrews-72869

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

I'm known to soundly beat myself up if I perceive I've 'failed' at something. But I always remember my Gran's wonderful words - 'give yourself a good talking to' - their generation's way of saying GET OVER YOURSELF....ann Sign up to our fortnightly issue of Powertools; a regular supply of business ideas; business tips and business tools for growing your business and receive a copy of 'What Next?' 29 Successful Entrepreneurs Sharing Their Predictions for 2011 and 2012. An absolutely amazing book featuring Penny Power and Dr Ivan Misner Ann Andrews CSP The Corporate Tool-box Online Business and Training Resources

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Andreas Wiedow

andreas_wiedow

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

@ Urban legend has it that a junior employee walked into his boss's office with his resignation in hand after having made a mistake that cost the company $5 million. His boss, who recognized the value of mistakes, refused to accept the resignation stating that, as he had just spent $5 million on training the employee, he wanted to get a return on his investment. That's a fairytale. Tell it UBS and those who arrested Kweku Adoboli. There's also lethal mistakes one makes only once . . . if not taught otherwise in time. @ Sam - My first day at school I kissed Ann Loader How did you follow up her ?

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Entrepreneur's Coach Gareth Emberton

garethemberton1-117375

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Hi Geoff There is only one failure...that is the failure to participate... As Jackie Chan said in the karate kid..."life knocks you down to see whether you will get up"! Falling down is imperative as without it we dont break the glass ceilings and as a result we miss out on growth. I do find it amazing how teachers can implant such limiting beliefs in our heads at such an early age! Great blog Best Wishes Gareth

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Penny Power

penny-power-1001

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Dear Geoff This is such angreat blog and way to get a message across I am now 47 and cannot believe the way my learning is accelerating now and how I can see the mistakes I have made, the opportunities I didn't grasp. I cannot believe how much I learn from people every single day, through Boardrooms, Online, conversations, books, basically I am a sponge, driven by a vision but not with all the skills and experiences I need to be the 'change maker' that I wnt to be We have to keep learning, which means we have to keep being aware if the gaps that we have, not the weaknesses, but the gaps and it is my network of business friends that plug that gap for me, thank goodness Sending love to you Geoff Penny xx r /> warm regards Penny Power Founder of Ecademy and Ecademy Digital School Helping you build social capital in your business and life Follow @pennypower Follow @pennypower I support:  

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George Artz

georgeartz1-638334

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

I have definitely made mistakes, one of which caused me to lose almost everything I had! George Artz

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David Shirley

davidshirley-358711

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Good morning Geoff, You perhaps only need look at the list of "self made men" to see that (usually) their success is prefaced by many attempts that were not so successful. Sometimes though it's difficult to see that you should take the risk, particularly in the job environment as it is at present - most are tempted to keep their heads down and hopefully retain what they've got. I don't know this of course but I would imagine a good number of the respondents on here are now self employed and therefore there is no boss to worry about. But it is something to be aware of if you now have employees - do you encourage them to be creative etc etc ? In my own case, it took a redundancy situation to be the catalyst for moving out of corporate life into what we do today - a fortunate unfortunate occurence! Enjoy your day. Dave 07770 627230 david@davidshirley.co.uk

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Jayne Albiston

jaynealbiston-624689

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Awesome blog Geoff and all too true. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and if I did not keep getting up again and moving on and learning from them I would still be down! Great message and a great encouragement to us all! Jayne Albiston Director International TradeLink Australia New Zealand global connections with integrity T: (AUS) +61(0) 468 931 067 or (NZ) +64-(0) 21 024 838 24 | E-mail: jayne@itradelink.com.au | Web: www.itradelink.com.au

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John England

johnengland-458104

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Hi Sam I guess the issue is were the consequences appropriate ... could have been worse I suppose. Your teacher could have insisted that you marry her! John England - Mindsystems Pty Ltd Expertise: Futurist, New Product Development, Creative Product Design Tel: +61 3 9999 1310 Fax: +61 3 9999 1301 Web: http://www.mindsystems.com.au

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Sam Borrett

samborrett-372470

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

Geoff, I knew we had something in common. My first day at school I kissed Ann Loader ( still remember her name ). I was 4. I was also put in the corner the whole day. Was I wrong? You tell me but I don't think so. Sam Sam Borrett Performance Coach, Trainer, Real Estate, Mentor, Lawyer, Facilitator, Life Constellations Mentoring4Change Jupiter Properties Pty. Ltd. PO Box 241 Brunswick Heads, NSW, 2483 Australia

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John England

johnengland-458104

Does Wrong Equal Failure?

I think this whole issue can be summed up in a question: "Do you work in a blame organisation or one which encourages risk taking?". You are correct in that so many organisations find that employees have learnt to simply 'keep their heads down' as mistakes will be persecuted! Why do manager's react to mistakes (often the result of taking a justifiable risk) in this way? I feel it is a lack of confidence coming from a lack of experience and, importantly, a lack of training. I have been involved in leadership and management training for many years and have seen some remarkable changes resulting from quite simple programmes. Perhaps the start point for a 'rejuvenation' is exposure to some behavioural understanding … I have found the Belbin Team Role system works perfectly for that initial step forward. If you are not familiar with Belbin, I have a series of videos on YouTube explaining the system. For example: http://youtu.be/mYL3aKON82U The trick is to encourage sensible risk taking and, as a manager, be prepared to accept the consequences when things go wrong, as they surely will from time to time. The other issue is 'consequences'. There have to be consequences for inappropriate decisions or behaviours. The secret is to address the issue, arrange remedial action if appropriate. THEN FORGET IT! Move on! This way you get a happy, motivated, creative workforce. At least this has been my experience. John England - Mindsystems Pty Ltd Expertise: Futurist, New Product Development, Creative Product Design Tel: +61 3 9999 1310 Fax: +61 3 9999 1301 Web: http://www.mindsystems.com.au

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Mick Say

micksay

Hi Geoff - I screw up Vigorousley

Hi Geoff I screw up all of the time, mainly because I test, try and push the boundaries of everything which means that failure is no stranger to me... I have failed at stuff so often that I now have no fear of it, I just cry a little, swear a bit and then get on with the next project. Good thing is that this keeps me young and in the main I learn by my mistakes and my experience and usefulness to my clients is amplified I think because of it... Nice post Geoff - Mick Mick Saywww.onlinemarketingacademy.uk.com We Specialise in Meaningful web 2.0 Website Design and Hosting.We Create Online Marketing Platforms Developed for the Social WebCall me : 0044 7719 061 835 Email: mick@micksay.com

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