I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin as the guest and the discussion covered many topics, eventually landing around the ideas of “saying no” and “learning how to fail.” Seth goes on to share that as a teenager he started to employ the phrase “This Might Not Work” as he was introducing a new idea or strategy for action. And what emerged for me was inspiring.
In this time of accountability and school ratings (accompanied by the lack of patience), I think we can agree that mistakes have too often been stigmatized. Consequently, we shy away from trying something new or taking that bold step forward.
I learned that the power of the phrase – This Might Not Work – lies in how it sets expectations. Consider the two approaches below.
The former sets the responsibility at the feet of the person that originated the idea with the operational assumption that it will work. The latter makes clear that this may very well fail, and that we only move forward if the team wants to do it. One places the pressure, and possible joy, on a single person while the other permits the joy to be shared regardless of whether it works. Thus the fear of failure is minimized (if not removed). This is important if we want to be a part of creating anything original.
Think about it – we’ve all hatched an idea or shared in the development of a plan that we “never thought would actually work.” Or maybe the response was something along the lines of, “this might be just crazy enough to work.” Those memories usually include smiles and a nostalgic look back on the entire process. That’s the joy I am referencing.
I know that I’m going to try this out in my next planning meeting and I hope you’ll do the same. Let me know how it goes.