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Growth Means Making Mistakes

by Doug Davidoff | Dec 17, 2010 8:48:00 AM

Mistakes Mean GrowthOne thing I know with certainty is that if you want growth (be it personal, professional, or business growth) you’ll make mistakes.  The faster you want growth – the more mistakes you’ll make; and if you want fast growth, be prepared to make lots of ‘em.

Mistakes are part of the game (I shared one of my basic ones yesterday).  They shouldn’t just be tolerated, they should be celebrated and learned from.  The question should never be “did you make a mistake;” instead it should be “did we make a mistake that we learned from?”  And did that learning advance our journey?

I’m seeing a trend that is concerning me.  While executives are putting growth initiatives at the top of their lists, they’re also demonstrating a dangerous level of “gun-shyness.”

In both selling situations that I’m involved in and in questions I’m getting from CEO associates seeking my advice, I’m hearing comments along the lines of, “We’ve done something similar to this before it didn’t work quite like we wanted.  How do we know that we won’t be making a mistake here?”

The answer, obviously, is that you don’t know it won’t be a mistake.  And the goal shouldn’t be to avoid making a mistake – the goal should be moving forward.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not a fan of making the same mistake again – nothing makes me angrier.  I’m also not saying that your goal should be to make a mistake.

However, when the “similar thing” is something like:

    • I hired a consultant before…
    • I’ve tried marketing on the web before…
    • We’ve tried hiring salespeople before…
And your asking yourself how do you know it will be different this time – the answer is because your doing different things.

The “mistake” questions you should be asking are:

    • If this turns out to be a mistake, what’s the likelihood that we’ll learn something valuable from it?
    • Does this effort have a better chance of being successful than the current steps we are taking?
    • If this is a mistake, can we afford it?  (If a mistake’s cost is large enough that it would materially impact your ability to continue, then find a way to scale the effort down and test it.)
The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again and expect a different result.  If you desire faster growth than you are currently experiencing,  that means you will need to try new things.  The problem with new things is that the only way to prove that they will work is after you try them.

Don’t let the last three years prevent you from moving ahead.  Keep your focus forward.  If your tolerance for making mistakes is too low, you’ll choke your ability to grow.

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