Dont be Afraid to Fail
Casandra Brené Brown (born November 18, 1965) is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host. Brown is known in particular for her research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership, and for her widely viewed TEDx talk in 2010. Since then she has written six number-one New York Timesbestselling books.
Her famous talk on TED on The power of Vulnerability is what I want to talk about today.
Whether we like it or not we are all vulnerable. We all make mistakes. We all say the wrong thing sometimes. We all wish we had answered a question differently on occasion. We all wish we could ‘take back’ that comment or question we made during an important meeting. We all wish we could have prepared better for a negotiation.
The question is : Should that affect the way we lead ? Does it make us a less better parent or a less better Manager ? According to Brene Braun, no, not at all. In fact vulnerability and embracing our mistakes makes us stronger leaders.
The truth is simple : you will not, and cannot always be right. No matter how hard you prepare or how much experience you have , there will always be instances where you simply don’t know the answer or even worse you have the wrong answer. The more you do, the greater the depth and width of your responsibilities, the greater the likelihood that you will not have all the answers. As change happens at light speed nowadays, the ability to stay current becomes all the more challenging and the correct answers become more and more elusive.
In the last few years we have witnessed unprecedented change : climate change, artificial intelligence, robotics, social media, multiple economic crises, and of course the Black Swan event - the Covid Pandemic. And of course nobody had the answers.
The issue is how we manage this in the workplace. Do we hide our vulnerability, pretending we know everything, and lead our business hoping it will be okay ? Do we hide our vulnerability by not asking for advice or consulting with people who may have the answers? Do we alienate our team by avoiding difficult discussions? Do we try an blame others for our own lack of communication or knowledge.
In fact experience has shown that a workplace environment which embraces mistakes is much more likely to be successful and move forward. If you and your team have a culture of innovation, it is most likely you will make mistakes. And making mistakes is part of growing. Both as a person and as a business.
If the work culture allows for mistakes, you and your team will be allowed to try out new ideas, venture into new business, find alternative ways to do things. If the culture is one of fear and punishment, you and your team will remain stagnant, repeating the same , safe, methods of the past. But this is not how a business or an individual grows . As John A. Shedd said ‘A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
So the conclusion : Allow for mistakes and Learn from them. Create and define a strategy with a vision but don’t be afraid to pivot off , correcting as you go along. Allow your team to suggest and try new options, some will work and some won’t, but this is part of growth. Don’t be over critical of mistakes and celebrate successes.
Create a growth culture in your business today