Is avoiding failure a valid business and life strategy?

I was talking with a group the other day and I realized that many of their questions and concerns had to do with avoiding failure.

It suddenly brought to mind a lifelong string of discussions with various people that had gone nowhere, simply because the focus was on avoiding failure. No matter how much they talked about changing jobs or their lives, they eventually did nothing because the risk of failure was paramount in their minds.

I was reminded of "Helicopter Parents" who protect their children against failure beginning in nursery school and even when they join the workforce. These parents threaten litigation at the first sign of a school demerit, a failing grade, or a bad review from a manager.

I wonder if these parents realize how much damage they are doing to their children?

A failure is merely a sign that you have made too many mistakes and are not learning from them. A job, a relationship, or even your health can suffer when you make decisions on unsufficient or incorrect data.

Avoiding failure through parental intervention or by refusing to make decisions is a scenario for eventual disaster. There is no attention on making better decisions, only attention on avoiding responsibility for bad decisions.

If children are allowed to make mistakes and fail early, they learn from a very early age that certain courses of action are unsuccessful. Nails will not hold wheels on a cart. Stoves are hot. Knives and other sharp things must be handled carefully. Fragile things break unless handled gently. Unkind actions can cost one a friendship.

Lives or jobs where there is no room for mistakes of any kind are boring and extremely repetitious because a human is doing a job that a robot would do better. Where there is room for creative activity, there is infinite possibility for making mistakes and even failing.

If attention is put on understanding why mistakes and failures have occurred and changes are made to produce better results, a useful learning process occurs. If attention is put on flogging those who made the mistake, a different kind of learning process occurs. The floggees learn to never make a decision and to hide all evidence of errors or mistakes.

An acceptance of risk opens the door to adventure, mistakes, even failure, but it is the only way to create a life worth living. Careers and companies alike achieve greatness only through the process of overcoming mistakes and learning from them.

I wrote an article about this more than a year ago. It was called Growing wiser instead of just older.

You might find it interesting.

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