Everyone has an achilles heel; spiders (mine, personally), flying, dogs. But a more common fear, one almost everyone has, no matter what language you speak or where you hail from, is failure. Interesting, then, to sit through seminar after seminar listening to mentors tell us that failure is, suddenly, an option. A desirable option. Say what?
From Jonah Lehrer to Robert Redford, they all seem to be closing with the same remarks: start failing more. No more are we to associate failure with negativity, but rather as a positive part of the creative process. We all hear the story of Benjamin Franklin, “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong”. But he’s Benjamin Franklin. Not many of us can write on our resumes having helped found a country, or invented the light bulb; somehow to us, today, it feels different.
And why is that? Is it the people we surround ourselves with when we work, making it hard to say something ‘stupid’? Is it the institution around us, nipping at our heels, asking hypocritical questions? Is it our clients, who so often don’t know what they want until they see something they don’t?
To me, it feels like a little bit of everything. Jonah Lehrer speaks of the science of decision making, and Robert Redford discusses the thrill of being in the right place at the right time. More and more it seems like something I have no control over, and maybe that’s just the point. If idea sessions become less about a reflection of one’s self, and more about the problem at hand, I’m sure we’d be listing off twice the ideas we normally do. Accountability should be spread liberally, rather than resting on the shoulders of each individual, but sometimes policy change takes a few brave individuals to shrug and say “why not?”.