Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Middle Failure

"The project often feels like a failure in the middle. But if the team persists through this valley of angst and doubt, it eventually emerges with a growing sense of momentum...[P]eople will persevere only if they perceive falling down as learning rather than as failing."

Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

In other words, failure is a natural phase of most endeavors, not an endpoint, not an exception.

"Notice what team leaders...are doing with the peaks-and-valley visual: They are creating the expectation of failure."

So, if we build failure into our mindset about how progress unfolds, we should have more capacity to see where we need to go to get success.

Of course, some failures are just failures, regardless of whether we have a growth mindset or not. The project is done. This is the more difficult learning situation of having to pick up the pieces and start over, not simply cruise up out of the valley to the next peak.

"Failing is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a kind of necessary investment."

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