Before I get too far into this blog post, I need to give credit to Chris Smeaton who shared his concept of ‘Failing Forward’ a few years ago when he was Superintendent of an Alberta school division. He has since retired, but is still influential in the educational field. Chris is a quality person who believes in the possible — a leader who builds a culture of risk taking and emotional support — someone who embraces the idea of failure being a springboard to better things.
Our conversation was about 3 years ago at a conference table. I loved the visual imagery of his ‘failing forward’ message.
Even if you’re experiencing a temporary pause in your momentum, you can still move forward if you’re supported and encouraged, but not if you’re condemned for your mistake during your exploration of something new.
I like knowing that certain things have order and certain outcomes will occur. My science training conditioned me to make order out of disorder — to put things into virtual ‘buckets’ of similarities. I am conditioned to align characteristics and form inter-relationships between things. Once something is in a bucket I prefer that it stays there and doesn’t move.
Sort of like “Why did the chicken cross the road”? Maybe the better question should be “UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES did the duck cross the road”?
I think you’ll enjoy this 27 second video — the German voice over isn’t relevant — just watch the ducks and the traffic signal:
I’ve watched it a few times trying to figure out what the actual stimulus was for the lead duck — it certainly appears like he recognizes the light change. Regardless, once the right conditions were in place — in other words, a safe environment to take the risk of crossing the road — every duck took the leap of faith and walked.