So I’m watching this movie with the kids called ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’. It’s about a couple who desperately want a child, but can’t. They spend an evening with a bottle of wine dreaming about their perfect child. The next morning a young boy who called himself Timothy, emerges from their garden with leaves on his legs. #odd.
For the purpose of the film of course, they take him at face value, appreciate what seems to be an answer to their prayers and start raising the boy as their own.
The film continues to be told from behind the desk of an adoption agency where the couple, describe what it was like raising this boy, who’s no long with them (stay with me), to demonstrate that they could be good parents to another child. Right, so as they’re telling this (unbelievable) story about a boy who appeared out of nowhere with leaves on his legs they fumble over a time when a decision they made with Timothy didn’t go so well. The stern faced woman from the adoption agency then focuses on this and asks them what they learned from that situation. It was a pivotal part of the film because it would demonstrate to the adoption agency how capable these (seemingly crazy) couple would be as parents.
Their response to what they’d learned from what had gone wrong was that they would “…learn to make better mistakes, because that’s what parents do…”.
At that point I decided to pause the film.
“…learn to make better mistakes..? How honest was that?
I was in a meeting a few days ago with a very highly regarded media entrepreneur who said that we only ever hear about the mistakes entrepreneurs have made when they’ve ‘made it’. In the meantime, it’s a closely guarded secret, one which further perpetuates the mystique around today’s entrepreneurs who probably aren’t doing as well as you think they are. But what they are probably doing is making mistakes, lots of them. The question I have pondered on is whether those mistakes are better than the last load of mistakes?
Do you make better mistakes or the same ol’ mistakes? You can see that the former, even though a seeming oxymoron makes complete sense – ‘better mistakes’.
Further to that, it should even be a mantra, something taught in business schools and embraced by entrepreneurs. Instead we’d rather keep those skeletons in our entrepreneurial closets until our bank balance makes it ok to let them out.
I get it though, if you told people about all the mistakes you made they’d consider you incompetent right?
You ask any experienced business person if they’d rather do business with or invest in someone who’s never made mistake, had a business fail, or lost a client. I know you still don’t believe me, so go ahead and ask. Answer s @theultrapreneur.
But if you’re with me, the sensible question is to then work out how to articulate and / or use these mistakes to our advantage so that we make ‘better’ ones in the future. Because one thing is for sure, be it start up entrepreneur or IPO entrepreneur, mistakes ‘will’ be made; get used to it.
Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
It would follow that entrepreneurs being the pioneers of ‘new’ would need to get used to ‘mistakes’. I’m not saying to wear your mistakes on your sleeve but don’t hide them from yourself either.
They may just be the odd answer you’re looking for.
Editor’s Postscript: Julian speaks to failure as a successful way to grow and become more proficient. In sales, there’s an old adage that “every No leads you closer to a Yes.” I always thought that was a bit smarmy, but lately I am seeing that salespreneurs have a unique optimism that makes those words resonate. We so admire these hardy, persistent professionals who can see the world afresh and anew even in the face of setbacks. We’d love to hear your stories, and help you with your growth. Please share with us, write for us, and inspire us.