"Embracing failure is the most important trait I've developed in my career. I have tried to learn from my failures, and I believe it has made me stronger, more confident, and more resilient."
This thought-provoking voice belongs to none other than Reshma Saujani, a lawyer, politician, civil servant, turned nonprofit founder. Saujani burst onto the political scene in 2010, being the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. While campaigning, her journey took a turn when her visits to local schools revealed an alarming truth—the gender gap in computing classes was growing versus declining. This stark reality led her to start Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization on a mission to increase the number of women in computer science and close the gender employment difference in the field.
CNN wrote that Saujani is not a coder, but she's empowering "an army of young women" to battle tech's gender gap. This incredible #WomensHistoryMonth trailblazer conquered law, took on running for congress sans-political experience, and then graced the newfound role of nonprofit creator—a successful one at that. To date, the organization has served 450,000 girls via summer immersion programs, clubs, and college loops.
Clearly, Saujani is unafraid to embrace the unexpected changes and unplanned arrival points that meet many of us along our journeys. You see, "to embrace" something extends beyond doing but immerses into the realm of facing the new in such a way that a win is guaranteed.
When addressing graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Saujani shared, "If women are to lead, they have to be taught to fail. Everything I've achieved has come from perseverance." This woman has refused to succumb to failure or mistakes. She has learned from them and used them as tools to sharpen her focus and perfect her precision. Stumbling blocks became stepping stones within her path. The unexpected reset her aim and adjusted her goals.
In Saujani Harvard Graduate speech, she continues, "Try something new today. Maybe explore a new sport, try a new recipe, learn a song, or pick up a hobby you always fancied. Change yourself. Try it with a friend. It's okay to fail." The permission to lose was granted. It was the last thing these graduates were prepared to hear. Get up and try, but guess what? It may not work out or go as planned, but attempt it regardless.
Astonishing, right? Try something new and fall flat on your face. What kind of message is that? In our opinion, it is some of the best advice that anyone could give. Marketers understand this all too well. THuS Marketing works with an array of clients, and many times we'll run into the "this is the way it has always been done, so help us do it again" syndrome. What's most outrageous about this condition is that the client expects us to provide them with different results. Do it the same but produce something new.
It is the wildest request ever and one we could never come to terms with. Our team has lost the pleasure to work with a few great organizations due to the barrier of the same old trying to produce something reinvigorated. Taking risks by diving into new oceans in order to enter uncharted waters is a difficult conversation to have. The fear of failure and the terrifying thought of making a mistake causes them to remain on the shore. They stand there with their feet buried in the sand, watching their competitors traversing waves and reaching depths they too desire to go. They completely miss out on the well worth it ride.
This message that failure is okay and mistakes are acceptable free us up to dare big. Go big or go home, right? Right! If we never go big we'll never experience big things. The truth is that failing is a good thing as it is one of the best teachers we could have in business and in life. Whether it is a marketing plan for a new program launch, a bold and shocking new brand to unveil, or a leap into a new career, don't say no because of the possibility of defeat.
Here's fact. Failures only make us better and our organizations greater. Learn from them and use them for your good. Now that you've heard truth, what will you dare to do new?