Making Mistakes

Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

In school, we're taught that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. We learn that getting something wrong somehow means that we're wrong as a human beings, that each mistake translates to a lower self-worth score. These dreaded slip-ups can be so hurtful that we learn to recoil from the very thought of stumbling, much like we avoid the hot stove for a lifetime after burning our hand just once.

Yet hiding from mistakes can be the biggest mistake we can make in our companies and careers.

The truth is, mistakes are neither inherently good nor bad. Instead of harsh judgment, we should look at setbacks merely as data. In the scientist' lab, mistakes are expected and a necessary step toward progress. Musicians learn to play, and ultimately discover their voices, through countless blunders and gaffes. The most celebrated entrepreneurs made their mark on the world not by avoiding missteps, but by embracing them as mission-critical learning moments that eventually enabled their greatness.

I believe there should be a mandatory class in middle school called 'Making Mistakes.' The course would cover the beauty of experimentation, how to recover from adversity, the difference between a reckless and a responsible risk. It would shine a bright light on the often-overlooked risk of standing still, showing the trap of mistake avoidance. Students would learn that the biggest mistake of all is not trying and playing it safe. They'd come to see that meaningful breakthroughs are only realized through dozens of mistakes and subsequent course-corrections. Kids would build skills around setback recovery, and pivoting obstacles into progress.

With the rigidity of traditional schooling as the backdrop, we must change the mistake narrative as leaders if we want to enjoy sustainable success. We must create corporate environments where mistakes are not only tolerated but required. The message is that if you're not messing up here and there, you're not pushing hard and fast enough.

The ones who never mess up – who never get their shoes dirty or blush from embarrassment – are the ones that reach the end of life filled with regret. On the other hand, those that push the boundaries and need the occasional Band-Aid are the ones that make history.

If you want to fully enjoy success, get comfortable making more mistakes. Mistakes, therefore, are not fatal they're simply the pathway to discovery.

The post Making Mistakes appeared first on Josh Linkner.

The Hard Part
Whether you are running a startup, building a relationship, or rebuilding a community, there's an easy part and a hard part. One requires less work in the moment while the other unlocks the potential of your efforts and concurrently is your playground for personal growth. Those comfortable things that require little thinking, risk, or effort exi...
Read More
You're Always Auditioning
Think how you shined during the interview where landed you your job. You were prepared to impress, fully engaged, and leaning forward with enthusiasm. Acutely aware that you were being evaluated, you made sure your answers were crisp and your questions were thoughtful. Simply put, you were ON. Unfortunately, that moment is the brightest some of ...
Read More
One Word That Will Change Your Entire Outlook
As busy people, we often sprint from one obligation to the next. The mandatory client meeting, the business lunch, the kid's soccer game all while keeping your seven social media streams up to date, your boss happy, and your family fed. In the modern age, we can feel overwhelmed with all the things we just have to do. When the events in our liv...
Read More
Making Mistakes
In school, we're taught that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. We learn that getting something wrong somehow means that we're wrong as a human beings, that each mistake translates to a lower self-worth score. These dreaded slip-ups can be so hurtful that we learn to recoil from the very thought of stumbling, much like we avoid the hot sto...
Read More
The Mother of Dragons
Spoiler Alert! (if you haven't caught up on GOT, stop reading and JUMP to "SPOILER START" below) Wow. How incredible that the woman who built her career on kindness and empathy turned every heartfelt follower to ash this week. The power of the loyalty that she built was, prior to this week, unstoppable. Her motives pure and sincere, and those th...
Read More
The Last 10%
I was nearing the end of my three-mile run (I'm no marathon candidate), and was feeling awful. Tired, hot, sore, and ready to throw in the towel. Looking at the fitness app on my phone, I realized that I only had 10% remaining. As much as I wanted to quit, I forged ahead and completed the full run as planned. That moment of difficulty, angst, an...
Read More
Leadership Lessons from the Most Feared Jazz Song Ever Written
Ask any jazz aficionado about the most challenging jazz standard ever written, and you'll likely get a knowing smile followed by two simple words: Giant Steps. The tune, composed and performed by legendary saxophone genius John Coltrane, has sent chills down the spines of would-be performers since its release nearly 60 years ago. Performed at ...
Read More
How Google Kills Ideas to Drive Killer Innovation
According to its tombstone, Trendalyzer was a data trend viewing platform that lived a happy life from 2007-2017. Latitude, a location-aware feature of Google Maps, was just over 4 years old before it was euthanized in 2013. Fabric, a platform that helped mobile teams build better apps, was sentenced to death after only one month of life. All in...
Read More
Nine Simple Pre-Game Questions to Maximize Business Results
There's an old saying in the boxing world: "Champions don't become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there." The implication, of course, is that hard work, day after day, in the cold gym is what enables a fighter to win. This makes sense in many areas of life. "Sweat more in practice, bleed less in war," is the basis of the Spa...
Read More
Lifelong Kindergarten
Peeking into a typical kindergarten classroom, you'll see a vibrant setting of creativity and collaboration. The colorful setting is messy, playful, and expressive as students smile with delight and their imaginations run free. Unfortunately, the creative wonder we experience as small children often declines in each subsequent year as we confron...
Read More