Don’t Be Driven By Fear Of Failure

Larry Price
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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Failure is probably one of the most-feared words in Hawaii’s fragile economic environment. Too many people seem to be afraid to try new ideas or dump the old ones that haven’t worked.

I’m sure everyone has known managers who are so worried about failing they don’t want to take a risk on a new idea. These managers identify their presence with the repeated words, “Yes, but ...” No matter what kind of idea comes up in a meeting or is suggested by a rival department, the reply is, “Yes, but that won’t work.”

This kind of closed environment discourages innovation, and any inspiration to explore new ideas is dead on arrival. Say “yes, but” to every new idea and before you know it no employee will try to offer an inspirational thought, innovation will come to a standstill and diversity in the company will dwindle.


There are numerous managers who are afraid of losing out on opportunities. Graduate schools of business are full of them. They are all looking for that “aha!” moment of insight that will guide them to their next great innovation.

The really big question is how to change that way of thinking. One of the most popular techniques taught in business schools is rapid brainstorming. No concern for wild new ideas, allowing employees to go from abstract thoughts to something more concrete so they can visualize the outcomes of their ideas. The idea is to train your brain to associate failure with pleasure.

This actually happens all the time in business, because when management cuts resources, the brain becomes desperate to find a solution. Necessity then becomes the mother of invention.

The point is, don’t be afraid to fail. It’s all about managing scarcity that is part of just about every business these days.


So don’t worry about two of our hospitals closing, the amazing rise in the cost of health care and pay cuts for public employees. We still managed to build two not one, two 55,000gallon pools for our two Indian elephants to frolic in at the Honolulu Zoo. Our public schools may be collapsing, the potholes are taking over roadways and every week another water main explodes.

Not to worry, an important election is almost here and that’s an opportunity for change.

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