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  • Claudia Sauter-Steiger

Creativity - Failing Forward

Creativity is a powerful skill to help people and companies succeed. It helps us to create new solutions and explore new territories. But is there somethings that can make a tangible difference on this journey of embracing creativity?

For us, the critical success factor in the creative process is embracing failure. To cite UC Davis Professor of Psychology Keith Simonton, many of the world's most famous creative people don't give up at the first sign of failure. Rather, they keep experimenting until they find what works. It is said that Thomas Edison had approximately 1000 failed attempts before the lightbulb was invented.

However, how do you learn to embrace failure in an instagram culture where we only celebrate success and perfection? How do we allow failure in an organization where failure is often punished or limited to the Research and Development Department?

One way is learning how to fail well. Yes, there is a right way to fail. When you creatively experiment - there are times that you will (and should) fail. But when you fail, you learn from it. For this reason, it is important to accept and even honor your creative failures. View them not as a hindrance to creative success, but as a powerful conduit that gets you closer to your goal next time around. Accept that failure is an option, and one that you are quite capable of recovering from, with the right perspective.

In my experience, the only way to overcome your fear of failure -- or at least prevent it from sabotaging your day-to-day -- is to reframe it. When you think of the framework for failure, replace the word “failure” with “learn.” That approach encourages confidence and a willingness to learn, which are vital for high-quality creative or innovative work.

As you face creative challenges, I encourage you to embrace failure. To quote leadership coach Craig Groschel if you aren’t failing every now and then, you’re playing it way too safe.


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