‘I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that doesn’t work’ A quote from Thomas Edison that has become more common than the sands covering sahara desert. So common that it‘s annoying to hear it. But it‘s a good one.
Just like many other Maldivians I also admire great innovators. I watch their videos and interviews. This way I can learn how they do things and apply it in my work.
One thing innovators differ from the rest of us is the way they see mistakes. We freak out when we make a mistake while they see it as something they must do. We try to avoid it. They just do it, after that learn from it.
Thomas Edison was one of those man. An innovator, a manager of a creative team who invented phonograph, motion picture, electric motor, alkaline battery, fluorescent lamp, and most importantly, fluoroscope – a medical device which he left to the public domain without a patent. The list goes on, his contribution are numerous.
The quote we started suggests how he see mistakes. He sees it as an opportunity to learn something new. He never get upset when he made a mistake or failed on something. He never felt down. If you continue like this it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, you have to succeed only once. That one success will pay many times over for the cost of all mistakes and failures you have done.
There is a chronic fear in every part of the society. That is the fear of others seeing our mistakes. People are afraid of this to a level that psychologists should start calling it a phobia.
Its same in the work place also. Ordinary staff hide their mistakes from supervisors. Supervisors hide their mistakes from managers. Managers hide their mistakes from directors. Directors hide their mistakes from the board. Then board hides all the mistakes from media. But thinking from company’s point of view, it is more beneficial if they expose and correct their mistakes rather than hiding it.
When we get afraid to make a mistake, it push us away from doing things different and trying new things. As innovations are new things no innovation will come out of us. We should get rid of this fear. It can be done by changing the way we see mistakes and failures. Most of the time it’s not as bad as we imagined. A wise guy once said:
‘We suffer more often in imagination than in reality’ Seneca
Fear is usually 100 percent imaginary. Therefore, it’s time for us to start making more mistakes and fail more often. This way we can come up with new things helping ourselves and others to develop.