This world needs explorers who are willing to take risks and willing to fail. Are you one of them?
We need people who are willing to go out on a limb, experiment and who, most importantly, are not afraid of failure. We need people to stretch the boundaries every once in a while; to think outside the box and to be an ‘explorer’.
In 1996 I spent a year creating a 16 day program to train project managers over 5 months. Before I launched, I took it to The Schulich School of Business and suggested they help me run it. We ran our first program in 1997. It sold well but the results were not great. I made a few big mistakes. My intuition told me we were on the right track and I was right. Today the Masters Certificate in Project Management at Schulich is one of the most popular programs for project managers in the country. Lesson learned: build it, deliver once, evaluate, fix it and never look back.
Never looking back is the key to being an explorer. We take an idea, build, test and launch. If it’s not perfect, we make the necessary adjustments and move on.
But we are also prepared for failure. If it does not work we are quite ready to kill it and move on. Again, we don’t look back (except to take lessons learned to our next venture).
In 2002 I thought that my fledgling recruiting business for project managers was ready to go online. It was called PMPeople.com. I spent a lot of time and money designing, testing and launching Canada’s first dedicated web site for project management jobs. It bombed. It killed me. I had to shelve it quickly and take my lumps. And I did. It still kills me but that’s my life and the life of so many other ‘explorers’ out there.
Understand that our explorers are not just building new businesses or services. They are also stepping up to run a charity event. They are going out on a limb with a new idea at work that might help the department. They are leaving one job for another that will fulfill a lifelong dream.
What’s the common thread between us? We are not afraid to fail. We have done the risk analysis. We have answered the question: “What is the worst that can happen and can we manage that very likely scenario?”. This is very important. The best of us will NOT put ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues and friends at risk in any way, shape or form. If there is any risk, we will do our very best to make sure everyone who can possibly be affected are aware and on board. If they are not on board we will rethink the plan.
Yes, unfortunately, some explorers will not follow this rule. On behalf of all of the rest of us, I am sorry about them. They will ruin it for some of us when we hear the words “I don’t want to get burned again’. No one should get burned – unless they were fully aware of the risks and boarded anyway. Everyone‘s eyes should be wide open.
So are you an explorer? If not, are you interested in becoming one of us? Start small. Deliver, evaluate, adjust and rerun or bail. Explorers are willing to take risks and willing to fail. When we win it is that much more enjoyable.
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