I was reading an article the other day that really resonated with me. “Where Confidence Comes From” talks about how the author became confident in rock climbing through the repetition … of failing. He became confident in his abilities by following this pattern:
- Climb one rung.
- Get back up.
- Repeat, adding a rung, until I reached the top.
He fell, deliberately, to get used to the sensations of falling and to experience what it felt like to fall.
So how does falling make him more confident? As I stated previously (Safe Enough To Try) in order to accept a risk an individual, or an organization, needs to feel safe enough to try something new. Safe enough in that the pain of failure is acceptable. The author, in falling after every rung, “failed” and experienced the impact of failure. Over and over again. To the point where failure was no longer the great unknown beast ready to pounce on him unexpectedly, but rather a known factor.
Modern corporate cultures require the ability to accept a risk, to fail. By failing small, by taking incremental steps, failing when necessary and by starting the climb back up the wall, corporate cultures evolve and become more confident.
But it all comes back to that one initial item: failing. There needs to be an acceptance that “one failure, is one too many”. Failure is how we grew as children, how we went through the dating process and how we discovered our job or career. We failed. Over and over again, we failed.
We were prepared to be wrong. We didn’t want to be wrong. We didn’t want to fail, we didn’t want to go out on dates and be shot down, we didn’t want to be fired, but we were prepared to accept the risk. You’ve seen the Youtube videos of people doing things that you know are going to hurt if they fail, but they do it anyway. They are prepared to be wrong, to face the consequences of failure, of being wrong.
An organization that can accept that failure, that being wrong, is a process of learning or being creative, that organization can be original. That sort of organization can stretch beyond the walls that they’ve placed around themselves, to be innovative and creative.
To be successful, you have to fail. To be good, you have to know what it is to be bad.
To be confident, you have to fall.