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Go Ahead and FAIL
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Three times in the last week this quote has confronted me, which I took as a reminder of a story of how important it can be to fail.  Or in this case of my story, to be allowed to fail.
 
 
 
Let’s start here: No one wants to fail.  No team, no game director, no mascot.  But failing is okay, provided you learn from it.  Thomas J. Watson the former CEO of IBM noted that if you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.  He wasn’t only open to failure, but he recognized that it aided in finding success and that it also gave you an allowance to try.  And so follows my tale.

No one wants to fail.  When a mascot presents a skit idea to their game director, they are presenting something they believe will work.  Failing at your desk is one thing, flopping in front of 15,000 fans is quite another.  I’ve never met a mascot who willfully walked onto the field in hopes of bombing.
 
Mascots Win!!

I am friends with a hockey mascot who once wrote 40 skit ideas to fill an entire season.  The list included skits he had performed before, some mascot standards, some new ideas, and a couple bits from YouTube he had adapted for use in hockey. He presented the list to his Game Director for approval.  After reviewing the list the Game Director gave the green light for exactly zero of the skits.

Zero.

There are a couple of problems.  First, the Game Director had hired someone who they thought was literally batting .000 on skit ideas.  The idea that zero of 40 ideas would work is a bit shocking.  

However, it was more concerning to me that she wasn’t allowing the performer to fail.  Failure can help point you in the right direction, help hone your instincts and help shape your future success.  Telling someone their ideas won’t work can be demoralizing, and it’s hard to learn if you just have to take your boss's word your ideas won’t work.

Giving the mascot the room to fail and learn will help them gain the experience to write better skits and perform concepts with more confidence after ideas have been proven to work (or not work and have been reshaped).

Failure is a great teacher.  Let’s assume the mascot and director decide on a test run of the best idea (or the best 10 ideas).   If the Game Director is right and the skit is a bust, the mascot will learn the hard way their ideas need some work.  Ideally they will be able to watch a video (even video from a phone) and critique the performance and see what worked and what didn’t. They can ask friends, coworkers and fellow performers how to improve or adapt the concept into something more successful.  

Also, the performer will have the experience of failing and feeling the moment, and there is no better teacher than experience.  

The Game Director will also have the benefit of seeing the concept play out live, which can sometimes be difficult to envision.  They too will gain from the experience, and perhaps have ideas how to adapt and enhance the concept into something that will work. 

This failure will in turn breed success.  Mascot will learn their ideas do indeed need work, they hopefully will have learned what did and didn’t work.
 
And again, this is assuming the skit was a failure.

Droopy Bowling Pin Mascot

If the skit is a success, it would have been the failing of the Director to envision the successful performed skit.  In the same way the mascot learned from the skit failing, the Director can learn if their assumptions were incorrect.  

But neither the mascot or the director learned anything without trying it.  
 
 
 
This story isn’t about finding out who’s right and who’s wrong, rather to share how important trying out ideas can be, even it it means you might fail.  Failing might be the only way to learn.  

So go out and crap the bed.  It can be the first step in your next great success.
 
 
 
-Jon Cudo
 
Failure is a great muse for many people, with dozens of powerful inspiring quotes. 

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” - Henry Ford

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” - Robert T. Kiyosaki

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” - Johnny Cash

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” - J.K. Rowling

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