A mistake isn’t always a bad thing.
Spanx founder Sara Blakely once organised an entire company presentation around the mistakes she’d made. Pixar director Andrew Stanton tells his team to be wrong as fast as they can. Laszlo Bock, the head of Google’s HR, trains his managers to spend as much time in meetings dissecting what went wrong as what went right.
Derek Flanzraich, CEO of multimedia health company Greatist, says that making mistakes is his primary method of learning.
In an interview featured in the book “What If It Does Work Out,” he told author Susie Moore:
“I learn almost entirely by f—ing things up first — and sometimes I have to f— it up a couple times. I wish that wasn’t true, but it’s super true for me at least. I think success is not about not making mistakes, but about (and this isn’t my phrase) mistakes well-handled.”
That phrase, “mistakes well-handled,” comes from a chapter in restaurateur Danny Meyer’s 2006 book “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business,” where he explains that the actions following a mistake are ultimately more important than worrying about preventing a mistake itself.
That’s not to say Flanzraich doesn’t worry about missteps — he just doesn’t let it interfere with what he’s trying to accomplish. When Moore asked Flanzraich how he overcame the fear of failure, he told her:
“I’m not sure I ever did. I still feel those things. I just don’t let it stop me. I let it fuel me and I see this as a big journey of learning. I’m confident. I’m hell-bent on building and making this difference that I want to make in the world. I won’t allow anything to get in my way.”
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