SUCCESS - Or How a Bias Towards Success Can Be Detrimental To Your Growth

Man in a suit straightening his tie

I read a brilliant article recently talking about why organisations don't learn. 

In the article the authors discuss several biases that affect a companies ability to learn. One of these was a bias towards success.

The authors spoke about how a bias towards success leads to a fear of failure

Success is good. 

Failure is bad.

For most of us this just seems like common sense. Who wants to fail? But what the authors speak of, is that when we are afraid of failure, innovation dies. When we are afraid of failure we will no longer take risks, when we are afraid of failure, we will not try anything new.

Our entire growth as human beings is about doing things differently, about experimenting in our environments, about trying new things. 

Essentially this is what children do, and this is why they learn so much. They are constantly probing and trying. Their imaginations act as virtual worlds where they can experiment with cause and effect.*

It is not until they are told they are talented, that winning is important, that success is key, that they begin to lose this sense of innovation.

Every one who achieved something great, every inventor, faced failure on an almost daily basis. But they saw failure as a key opportunity to learn, to improve, rather than as a setback, or a problem.

May we be people who embrace failure as a key opportunity to learn, may we give our children better models of how to grow, and may we be those that value our growth more than we value our perceived success.

*based on the work of psychologist Alison Gopnik and her research around imagination.


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