OK. Maybe I should rephrase that. Thomas Edison wasn’t afraid to fail. In fact, he saw it as an essential part of invention. If he failed, he learned what didn’t work and moved on.
Go to The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, and visit Thomas Edison’s workshop. The
docent will tell you about Edison’s famous interview with a reporter who questioned his lack of results. Keep in mind, this was before he invented the light bulb. Edison replied: “Results? Why, man, I’ve had plenty of results. I know several thousand things that don’t work!”
Edison, of course, was right. At the time he was just months away from inventing the light bulb. But what if he’d let that reporter get to him? What if he’d allowed his confidence and resolve to be shaken? Years later, Edison wrote: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Are you empowering your employees to take risks – and even to fail from time to time? This is how you change the game internally and start to address your wicked problems. Doing something different requires change, and yes, occasional failures.
None of us like to fail. It hurts our pride and usually costs us money. But, if we learn something from our failures, if we build upon them and persevere, failures can be signposts on the journey to success.
While every change you make comes with the risk of failure, the greatest risk comes from failing to change at all…