Here’s a question: what does “taking risks” really mean?
Why is our society so uncomfortable with the idea of “taking risks”? Why does this feeling usually lead us into choosing the conformity of taking a “decent” idea over the possibility of something brilliant, but “insecure”? And most of all, why are we so afraid of the possibility of failure?
The answer is simple:
Because we’ve been taught that making mistakes turns us into failures.
As marketers and creatives, this is an especially tricky situation because, well, how can we create something new if we don’t allow ourselves to take risks?
Having an idea, analyzing it, creating a strategy to apply it, and learning from the results – this process is the essence of creativity, and each of these steps depends on trusting the creative process. But when you remove “risk” from the equation, all that’s left is a boring, repetitive process. With no possibility of growing.
And to offer a little bit of motivation and introspection, we want to share many of the ideas that have helped us move forward., take risks in the midst of doubts, and take actions that made us grow and led us to where we are. Hopefully, they’ll help you too!
“Erring” is not failing
“Do not fear mistakes. There are none”
Miles Davis – jazz musician, trumpeter, composer
“Mistake” is a word with a very negative connotation. Mainly because from a company’s point of view, making a mistake makes you think you are going to lose money. But that’s not true in practice. John C. Maxwell, one of the world authorities in business leadership, explains it this way:
“The difference between mediocre people and successful people is their perception… and their reaction to failure“
Mistakes mean that a decision was made but did not go as expected. Nothing less, nothing more. Focusing only on the mistake is a massive waste of energy for that very reason; it does not allow you to perceive what can be improved for future actions, and consequently, to find strategies and solutions that in no other way could’ve been found.
Steve Jobs failed with the Apple III, and there were significant monetary losses, but everything that followed with his return to the company was a resounding success thanks to the lessons he applied. We’re not saying that making mistakes or losing money is good. What we are saying is that if you want to reinvent the wheel (or just make better decisions), an “error” can give you better royalties than some good investments.
Learning is not failing
“We must remember that failure gives us chances to grow, and we ignore those chances at our own peril”
Edwin Catmull – co-founder of Pixar, former president of Walt Disney Animation Studios
On the other hand, sometimes it is necessary to “make a mistake” if you want to find new solutions to the same problem. Or put another way, sometimes error is a necessary result.
A/B Testing is maybe the best example we have on marketing. In theory, it’s a tool designed to create sustained and measurable growth. In practice, you are creating two versions of a single thing knowing full well that one of them will fail. You’re investing twice the resources, time, and talent when only half of it will have fruitful results.
But that’s a wrong way of looking at the tool, or rather, of looking at the goal of the tool. You are not looking to predict desired results. You are looking to learn them.
And funny enough, looking to predict something is much riskier in the long and short term, because you don’t have the data or figures on which you can support future decisions. Not “taking risks” will always rob you of the opportunity to grow. It’s just a matter of knowing how and when to make those decisions.
Reiterating is not failing
“Drawing is a constant correction of errors. Maybe a large part of creation is that, really“
John Berger – art critic, poet, novelist, painter
In certain creative industries (industrial design, for instance), it’s very common to make from 7 to 10 different versions of each work, like “drafts” that keep changing on and on and on. And due to that constant pace of work, there’s a certain mantra they tend to use every time they create a new version:
Upgrade the previous version almost immediately, test it, and repeat the process. The idea is that from the moment the “original” version is built, it’s well known that things will be found that either doesn’t work or need to be improved, and they work efficiently and quickly to improve it based on feedback and teamwork.
“Mistakes” become inevitable. Something to get out of as quickly as possible. There are no “mistakes” as such, but areas of opportunity. And that is extremely liberating! Because now, your focus goes from doing something “perfect”, to a constant process of improving where your only focus is to reiterate. A simple change of perspective in your work process.
Trying again / Taking risks is not failing
“Some see risk as a reason not to try. Some see it as an obstacle to overcome. The risk is the same; to try or not depends on your perspective“
Simon Sinek – public speaker, author, entrepreneur
Sometimes things go very wrong. And as much as we want to learn from those mistakes, the consequences end up being too harsh to not pay attention to them.
Todo negocio tiene por lo menos una historia así. De momentos que tal vez por negligencia, cálculos errones, o crisis económicas que no pudieron calcular, la empresa no vuelve a ser la misma. Every business has at least one such story. Moments that perhaps due to negligence, erroneous calculations, or economic crises, couldn’t be calculated, and the company is never the same again.
You and your company are not the mistakes you’ve made.
Every mistake implies, by its very definition, the possibility of growth for the next try. Any story can improve in the future if the team really wants to. And no mistake should ever take away your intention of trying again.
Of course, it’s normal to have the fear of failure present again, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again. Every idea we share on this blog is proof of this; that most times the best solution is not to make mistakes on purpose or to lie about them, but rather, to change the way you see things.
Change your perspective. And keep going.
At Nomad Digital, we believe that growth is a constant decision. The fruit of all the efforts, mistakes, and learnings your company will have; Or in other words, your story, and how you decide to live it.
And if you want the rest of your story to lead to those dreams and goals you have worked so hard to achieve… it will be our pleasure to help you write it.