Taking risks and making mistakes

Yesterday my oldest daughter started kindergarten. She came home thrilled, energized, and with a slew of papers. This was a bit of the “first day” letter from the teacher:

After I thought, “why do people use Comic Sans?” and “hat a terrible rag on the right side,” I thought, “Wow, that’s it right there.” Taking risks and making mistakes are the necessary ways we all learn and grow.

I’ve been reading about failure a lot on other blogs, and how we learn from failures, and how failing makes us stronger/smarter/realize we’re human/realize we’re capable of mistakes/realize we’re capable of great great things. And I know when we go snowboarding, we always say, “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” Is it fate that people are talking about this now, as well as my daugher’s kindergarten teacher?

But then I started thinking a bit more… what do clients think about this idea? Do clients want, or support, us to fail in order to learn something new? Or do they always, always want immediate success, positive ROI results? Or to learn from our failures on others so we can get right to the success for them? Somewhere in between? Something completely different? It’s like when we launch a web site. We think it’s great, the client thinks it’s great, and we track the analytics. Mostly, it shows our thinking is sound. But it also shows what we can improve, and can show that people aren’t doing what we thought they would do. Failure. Is it? Or is it just another way to look at a challenge in a different way, and come up with a better solution?

At any rate, what we hope to do is create this “classroom” in the workplace… this place “where each of us feels safe to take risks in our own ways.” Because if we don’t fail, we’re not trying hard enough. The trick is to get back up and continue down the hill, carving perfect turns (those turns you learned to make from previous failures) in the fresh powder. You might fall again. But man, is it fun.

Can’t wait to see what else I learn in kindergarten this year.

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