This tip may not sound remarkably inspiring, but I encourage you to think of the alternative: failing to take healthy risks that will improve our organizations. This week’s tip came to me from George Ellis, Chief Financial Officer of the Studer Group. In a strategy session for our organization, he recommended that we be open to failure, as it’s one inevitable consequence of innovation and risk-taking. His point was to avoid the paralysis that comes when we pursue perfection too far; when our fear of failure prevents us from acting at all. Instead, he advised, try, risk, attempt, explore, experiment — and learn from any failure that occurs. I can think of a few examples of how “planning paralysis” sometimes occurs in our K12 school systems:
- An endless strategic planning process that gets bogged down by fear of making difficult decisions to direct the future of the organization
- A leader avoiding the challenging process of responding to an employee’s poor performance
- A classroom teacher who learns a new instructional strategy but hesitates to implement it, worried that it won’t work with his students
As leaders, we must face the fear of failure and move forward. Let’s not let our desire for perfection — for never failing — prevent us from accomplishing great things for our students, employees, and communities. Go for it: fail fast.