We live in a world where failure is undervalued and feared—but it’s essential. Most business books push us to embrace failure. There’s no question we learn more from big-time losses than wins. And we’re positively impacted when people or brands are honest about their failure. So what stops brands from making bold choices?
Incredible ideas are often pushed aside because we fear the downside. There is safety in following last years marketing plan or choosing a campaign that did “okay” in research.
It takes guts to pick the campaign that had the most impact in research if it was polarizing. This is where a bold choice takes courage, and a plan for winning or learning.
Here’s how to feel better about taking a risk:
1. Know your biggest risk factors.
Is it reputation? Overspending? Missing goals? Losing your job? Losing the company? Understand which are true risk factors or only fears. You may have more latitude than you think. Ask others what they think is at risk. Their answers may surprise you.
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Great ideas don’t come with a lot of data or guarantees. You have to decide to live with the discomfort of going beyond the barriers knowing the outcome could be outstanding. Learn to recognize the feeling of discomfort and know that it could mean you’re on the verge of breaking through.
3. Ask, “How can this idea fail?” And plan to mitigate issues.
List all of the ways it could go wrong. What would you do to correct it? What would you say to your coworkers or customers? The more you understand the risk, the better prepared you’ll be to fail quickly and gracefully.
4. Also ask, “How far could this idea really go?” and “Are we prepared for success?”
This collaborative debate is where the real learning happens. Discussions about delivery, sales, and manufacturing can uncover new opportunities and pitfalls. Plan for success so everything is ready and nothing is missed.
Bold ideas take courage. There are a fortunate few who are in the game, and have calculated where they’ll win all the time. I used to envy that group, but I worry about how they will handle failure. Then there are those critiquing from the sidelines, never winning or losing. And, of course, there are the majority of people who have had their fair share of losses, but get up and try again and again, knowing the hard lessons learned will pay off. They call it grit. Resilience. I call it a chance to win big.