“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.” – Samuel Johnson
It’s part of human nature that we tend to not want to make mistakes. We’re taught from an early age that mistakes are bad and successful people don’t make them. People who make mistakes are failures and usually suffer some horrible consequence, we’re told.
And to a certain point, that’s not wrong. We don’t want to go around making mistake after mistake. There are mistakes that bring with them horrible consequences. At some point, if all we do is make mistakes, then yes, we will probably fail.
But we have a tendency to take that too far. We’re so afraid of mistakes that we don’t try things unless we’re 100% certain they’ll work. Of course, we can never by 100% certain anything will work, so we end up just not trying anything. We do the same conversations over and over about specific issues or changes and then never act on them. Ten years later we’re still talking about the same things.
As leaders, we have to push through that. Nothing is ever guaranteed, so we have to take some risks. That doesn’t mean being foolish and risking our organization’s very existence, but we have to be willing to start down paths without knowing exactly where they’re going to lead.
Think about a key decision or barrier or opportunity that your organization is currently wrestling with but hasn’t acted on. Maybe you have multiple options and are having a hard time choosing. Think about what is really important to you about the decision (profit, growth, people, whatever) and rate the options based on those criteria. Then act.
Sometimes we hesitate because none of the options meets our ideal. We have a picture in our head of what we want things to look like and none of these choices is that picture. So we keep waiting for that ideal to come along, and it never does. Forget that. Your perfect solution may not exist, but as a leader you can never use that as an excuse for inaction. Change your mindset, find the best possible solution and make it work.
Mistakes do happen and sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. That doesn’t mean we’ve failed. The only failure is doing nothing because you’re waiting for the perfect solution at the perfect time. Keep pushing forward.