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September 24, 2013

A Reminder: Innovation and the Fear of Failure

Innovation is still a big word that everybody is striving for. Businesses feel the pressure to come up with new and “innovative” ideas. But how do we get there, how are we “innovative”, where is that button, that we need to push?

I just got reminded that part of the answer is: facing your fears. It’s fear that is holding us back from being more creative and innovative, fear is limiting us and keeps pushing us to choose familiar paths rather than exploring something unknown.

Here are some quotes of the book “Innovate or die” that reminded me to face my own fears again.

Fear will make you defensive and inactive:

“Fear is a state of mind – nothing else. But it is a state of mind strong enough to destroy your chances to achieve anything. It destroys imagination, discourages initiative, and wipes out enthusiasm. It quenches ambition and invites failure through inaction. It kills the zest for life and invites disaster in a hundred different ways, despite the obvious truth that we all live in a world filled with an abundance of opportunities, coupled with the freedom to do anything, including nothing.”

 

Instead of fearing the unknown you should calculate the risk and get active:

“Think of opportunities in terms of risk, by responsibly weighing costs and benefits without bogging them down in fearful inactivity.”

 

Think about failures as necessary to achieve your goal; it’s a feed-back loop in the end:

“As Mark Twain once said “success is going from failure to failure with great enthusiasm.” If you go to your grave thinking life is warfare, my guess is that if you come back in another life, it will be as a caterpillar. And if there is no reincarnation and you go to a better world, the Good Lord will say, “So what! Have fun, enjoy it, make mistakes, and put lots of egg on your face.”

We have a sign on our cafeteria bulletin board that says: Try Test Adjust Try Again Fail Modify Scrap Start Over.

That is our business plan.”

 

Even though it is not hard for me to come up with new ideas – it is still easy to get on the path of familiarity without even noticing. So reflecting on one’s fears from time-to-time is a good exercise to stay creative.