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Making Mistakes is Good Business

Chris Marshall

We are raised in a culture, an academic and professional culture, where making a mistake is penalized. Mistakes, in our culture of perfection, of correctness, are considered a weakness of logic, of sensibility, of intelligence. Unfortunately, this logic is preventing us from pushing the boundaries of the status quo. Impressing the boss, fitting in, towing the company line. Giving the answers that we think our superiors want to hear... is killing our ability to improve and do good business.

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  • Chris Marshall


    Amazing - how can we not discuss change and innovation without allowing for vulnerability? As Brene Brown discusses, it is by allowing for the space to be vulnerable that we can experiment, make mistakes, and grow as people and organizations. We have so much work to do as humans....

  • Heidi Sistare

    I was just listening to TED Radio Hour on my local NPR station. The guest was Brene Brown, who researches shame and vulnerability. She said that after her TED Talk went viral she got many offers to speak in institutional settings but that, oddly enough, people often asked her not to mention vulnerability or shame. Here's what she said about that:

    "What would you like for me to talk about? There's three big answers - this is mostly, to be honest with you, from the business sector, innovation, creativity, and change. So let me go on the record and say vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change."

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Ben Goldhirsh

    thanks for sharing this, Chris. I couldn't agree more. They say that wisdom is learning from other's mistakes, but i think it's tough to compete with the learning you get from your own. The challenge also exists in a culture not only in perfection or correctness (as you mention) but also one that hammers people on mistakes - often correlating mistakes with bad intentions - and personally I find this to be a brutal variable to deal with. If intentions are respected, than mistakes can be reviewed constructively, and the lessons can be enjoyed widely. If intentions are discounted, than you end up with a debate about character that misses the discussion about lessons.