Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Wrong

I found an interesting quote in an email from a business owner the other day. He said of his senior management team, when challenged to develop some of their own performance goals: "We are also learning that they are afraid to make a mistake. I think their fear of failing is outweighing the excitement of contributing."

And he's right. We can sometimes be so directly involved in the business that we're right on our managers' heels, providing minor course corrections and suggestions, thereby unconsciously communicating that mistakes aren't allowed. Yet our logical mind realizes that adults learn by making their own mistakes -- it can be viewed as part of their training cost.

I had a conversation on an airplane last year with a sales manager who had just taken over a new sales force. One of the things he said about that group was "I've had to teach them that anything worth doing is worth doing wrong". What a fascinating idea, and an interesting way to communicate it. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said: "I'm trying to help them understand that there's more honor in trying something and screwing it up than in not trying anything at all."

Other business owners have used terms like "letting go". And it's letting go of a lot of things. Letting go of the fact that nobody does it like (or as well as) I do. Letting go of the fact that someone else will make mistakes and may not run the business at its optimum fine-tuned efficiency that I do. Which would you rather have -- a $5 million business doing 10% net on sales or a $10 million business doing 8%? It's generally hard to scale a business in a culture where people believe mistakes aren't allowed.

If you've crossed a bridge from "no mistakes allowed" to "letting go", please click Comments below and share your experience with us.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

1 comment:

  1. Hi Terry,

    We love this post. It reminded us of what one of our mentors, Adam Urbanski, used to say: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing poorly to start with."

    You should know we came across this post and your website because we posted an article about masterminding on our own blog just last week, and three different people with ties to CEBI came to comment. Everyone had wonderful things to say about how masterminding boosted their businesses, and that CEBI has been instrumental to their growth.

    Because of that reason and more, we're very pleased to make your e-quaintance, and we wish you continued success with the business and the blog!

    Best regards,
    Lani & Allen Voivod
    Co-owners and "Content Lovers" of Epiphanies, Inc.
    "A-Ha Yourself!"


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