Those who know me well know that I have a passion for fitness. More specifically, for lifting weights. I’m a big believer in the “strong mind strong body” idea. And frankly, I’m not above admitting to the bittiest bit of vanity.
There’s a lot I love about lifting… but for today’s purposes I’ll focus on one: the eternal strive for failure. In the gym, failure is not just OK – it’s the goal; the North Star. You lift until failure; until you literally can’t eek out another. In the gym, failure is how you know you’ve accomplished what you set out to achieve. It means you pushed to your absolute limit; you emptied the tank.
In business, “failure” is having its day… sort of. We espouse the power of “learning from failure,” and yet we continue to do whatever it takes not to fail. We promote the idea of taking risks, but we continue to reward the tried-and-true strategies that yield predictable results.
How do we really begin to shift this paradigm? How do we make risk taking more compelling, and failure less “Ruh-roh I’m gonna get fired” and more “Now that was an idea worth testing – and here’s what I learned from it!” It’s the million-dollar question. But here are my own personal focus areas for 2016…
Go small. In the gym they say, “Go big or go home.” But I say, start where you are. If failure is terrifying, then take a small bite. Go into a small team meeting unscripted. Invite someone a little “out of your league” to coffee just to shoot the breeze. Take a risk. And if something fails (we hope!!) – debrief with yourself. Take notes.
Tell someone. If you’re not ready to post your failure to the intranet, then simply tell a colleague or a mentor. I tried [BLANK]. It failed miserably. Here’s why… But really commit to your experiment and its outcomes.
Do it again. But this time, tweak your approach with a lesson learned from the first go around. What’s one thing – big or small – you learned from this little experiment? And how can that feed your next attempt?
What commitments are you making to yourself in 2016?