A “Bone Yard” of Mistakes

I was visiting a sawmill recently and we passed a “bone yard” filled with abandoned equipment.

The owner glibly pointed it out: “That’s where we store our mistakes.”

Now, mind you, this plant was filled with innovations. Cool saw lines with great flows that seemed to get the very best out of the log. By all appearances, they were very successful. And, they had a bone yard of failures.

No one likes to fail but the fear of failure frequently keeps people from success. Somewhere along the way, we learn failure causes setbacks and, rather than risk it and suffer from it, we avoid risk. And, the outcome is we don’t learn anything new, we don’t discover anything new and we don’t accomplish anything new. We stay safe and drift to mediocrity.

Dr. Keith Simonton at the University of California-Davis studied creative geniuses from Edison to Mozart. His discovery: Creative geniuses fail more often than the rest of us.

They embrace failure because it teaches them stuff.

They take risks because each risk is a step toward success.

They understand the process of success can feature steps backwards. They minimize the impact of steps back by confidently taking another step the next day. In the end, creative folks believe that a positive result is just around the corner.

I’m all for prudence. It’s wise to consider risks before acting. But, I also believe in “happening to the world.” Our team is smart enough and resourceful enough to rebound from setbacks.

Be a little braver. Remember getting great results may result in a bone yard of mistakes.