10 Quotes to Free Your People of Their Fear of Failure

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THE BIG IDEA: Ten reminders to help you create an environment where people feel free to try, fail, learn, and try again.


When you think about failing, how do you feel?

The thought of failure tends to evoke fear. It’s a conditioned response from childhood when we were reprimanded by our parents or teachers for doing something wrong.

This conditioned response must be observed, uprooted, and replaced with the belief that failure is vital to long-term growth.

Individuals who don’t fail don’t grow. Businesses that don’t fail often can’t innovate, and are eventually consumed by their competitors.

How Fear of Failure Destroys Progress

Failure is not our enemy; it is our teacher. If you look at every business initiative as an experiment, it is easier to observe the results of the experiment, learn from it, and try anew.

When our personal identity is tied to the results of a project, the learning process is impaired. Subjective feelings and biases block the objective evaluation of progress (or lack thereof). It becomes difficult to make course corrections when appropriate.

With personal bias and a fear of failure, executives often pursue projects that should be terminated. The fear of failure perpetuates stagnation where company resources are drained instead of leveraged.

10 Quotes to Inspire Rapid Innovation

Here are ten quotes to inspire you to champion change and innovation within your organization:

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

— Steve Jobs

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”

— Peter Drucker

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

— Dale Carnegie

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

— Jack Welch

“A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

— B.F. Skinner

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

— Nelson Mandela

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

— Peter Drucker

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston Churchill

“Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.”

— Tom Peters

Now go free your people of their fear of failure and watch them create the extraordinary.

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