Nothing will stop you from being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake – John Cleese
....the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself..... - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Not too long ago, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Princeton, Johannes Haushofer created his CV of Failures. This CV went viral.
Based on Johannes’s CV of Failure, Lucy Kellaway (The Financial Review, 24 May 2016) created and analysed her own CV of Failure. The analysis showed that, like Johannes, her CV was in fact littered with many failures. Failures like missed job opportunities, novel rejections, etc. Lucy’s CV of Failure is not unique and we all probably share a similar CV – the content will be different, but the story will be the same.
Lucy’s further CV analysis also identified a time block that was surprisingly void of professional failures. As it worked out, this was when she took time out to work on more important tasks like her family. She has ultimately concluded that her failure void, which on the surface would appear to be a good thing, was actually as a result of her profession inactivity. In other words (hers not mine), her lack of failure was as a result of being lazy rather than proactive.
This then poses an interesting association; is lack of failure a result of professional inactivity and conversely, is a high level of failure a direct result of professional activity and risk taking.
The same week that the Financial Review printed the above story, Alan Joyce (Qantas Chief Executive) was quoted that boards should not be saying no to new ventures, even when there is risk involved, and that “witch hunts that often followed corporate failures were holding companies back.
Failure is a result of a task that has not completed favourably or the outcome was not as expected. Where ever possible we consciously or subconsciously create a risk matrix and make decisions based on where the risk lies and what our risk appetite is like.
The bigger the risk appetite the more likely we are to take higher risk. If we are totally risk adverse, then the likelihood of taking a risk is quickly diminished. How risk adverse we are or what our risk appetite is set to is moulded from previous experience or available resources. If we are risking everything, then we would normally be a little bit more cautious than if the house wasn’t on the line.
Obviously, before taking any risk into consideration, homework needs to be completed – we don’t want to shoot too soon. But unlike the prevailing culture of risk adversity, maybe having a slightly bigger risk appetite might just be enough to give you a point of difference and put you in front of the pack. The worst thing you can do is miss opportunities because you were too scared of the outcome.