We all know that popular hashtag. Was it the mini-caramel apple bites or the complicated Cookie Monster cupcakes, a 10 p.m. toddler temper tantrum or your fifth straight failed media pitch? #FAILs are sometimes posted in good fun, but other times, they can weigh on you for weeks.
This point hit home with me during a PRSA International Conference session by Brad MacAfee, senior partner and president of Porter Novelli, North America. In his presentation, Culture of Innovation: How to Foster the “What if?” MacAfee discussed why encouraging a culture of innovation at your company is important, steps to take when creating one and how an epic fail can lead to epic success.
What stood out to me most were two phrases – “Fail fast, fail often” and “If not now, then when? And if not me, then who?” (Mark Ebeling)
That first phrase was almost hard to hear and a relief all at the same time. In an industry where failure is sometimes…let’s say…frowned upon, I thought, “How can PR pros ever accept failure?” But, it was a relief to be reminded that failure is sometimes what leads to the biggest success of all. Don’t beat yourself up over every failure. Failure is inevitable. Famous people had to fail first to get where they are today. Failure also can’t be looked at the same way across all employees. We all work differently and success can come from different approaches.
Letting employees take his or her “If not now, then when? And if not me, then who?” idea and run with it may mean it’s going to fail once, twice or maybe three times, but the eventual success will only build that individual’s strengths. Strong employees equal strong companies.
Food for thought:
“What if?” got us to the moon.
“What if?” lead to the election of America’s first African-American president.
“What if?” means self-driving cars are on the horizon.
“What if?” founded America.
And, what if George Washington Carver never invented peanut butter?
What have you failed at lately? Let me know in the comments!