Thoughts & Observations

The Stickiness of Failure

Jason Womack just got me thinking about something: success or failure…where do you learn the most?

I definitely learn from both, but I find failure a lot more sticky.

Not sticky in the sense that I get myself into sticky situations, but sticky in the sense that it stays with me. The next time I need to make a decision, the stickiness of a failure shows itself in a visceral response. I can feel what the right direction is without necessarily having to think about it.

I also find much more clarity in failure then I do in success.

Sometimes what led to success can feel like a slightly fuzzy mystery: I know I got here, but I’m not quite sure how.

How a failure happened, however? That is always brutally clear to me.

A lot of this probably stems from the fact that we tend to debrief after something has gone wrong, and not so much after something has gone right.

And while it is probably a good thing that I can be honest with myself about my shortcomings and failings, it would probably be good to get in the habit of doing post mortems of the successful stuff too.

Chip and Dan Heath talk about this in a way in Switch. Sometimes problems aren’t solved by examining the problem itself, but by examining the bright spots, the points of success. I think we are all programmed to focus more on what’s wrong then on what’s right.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with us.

Thoughts & Observations

The Creativity Myth

I used to think there was something inherent about being creative: you either were or you weren’t.

But creativity isn’t about having some special gene.

People who are creative just show up more.

They sit down at their desk and write day after day. Or they show up at the studio and choreograph and dance. Or they sit down at the piano and play. Over and over again. Even when they don’t feel like it.

Sooner or later, all of that showing up starts to translate into something. Their mind gets working differently and they see the world a little differently, and things seems to start aligning themselves.

It’s a nice excuse to say that you don’t have that special, magic creative gene.

But you know what the real answer is.