Friday, August 21, 2009

You Either Win or You Learn

Today's blog is written by Jeff Boedges, partner at SoHo Experiential

My grandma used to say that a man standing in the middle of the road was a man likely to get run over. If that’s the case, there are a lot of people who should be as flat as a pancake by now. You see, if you don’t keep moving toward the other curb, you will be hit, or at best, cause traffic to come to a screeching halt.

Now more that ever, it seems that decisions aren’t being made; people keep looking for something else to learn or waiting for some new opinion to emerge before putting themselves on the line. Frankly, it feels like decisions and commitments simply aren’t being made, and it has now become more acceptable to do nothing than to risk any accountability whatsoever.

Go ask Axle Rose; c’mon, Chinese Democracy? It was okay, but 15 years to make it? The Beatles put out 13 albums in 10!

So, while some write off this paralysis as a sign of the times, owing at least in part to the worst economy since the Great Depression and an uncertain future, my suspicion is that the trend runs deeper; my fear is that decisions are no longer being made because there is always a chance that (gasp) a “wrong” decision might be made!

People! Let’s get over it. No decision is ever perfect; no artwork, no music, no literature, no creative solution to any challenge or opportunity will ever please everyone. Furthermore, nothing really worth doing comes without risk. We can let fear of accountability prevent us from moving forward in our lives, and in our business. What do Albert Einstein and Albert Pujols have in common; besides the fact that they both love schnitzel? Both conduct themselves in their work unafraid to make errors because they knew/know that they will learn as much or more from what they did wrong as from what they did right.

Our mantra at SoHo? “You either win or you learn.”

While wrong turns are an unfortunate fact of life, we should remember that they are rarely permanent (except maybe a certain tattoo I got in Mexico after a night of mescal with the Mrs.) Anyway, if you want to see the definition of ”wrong turn”, take a look at the path Lewis and Clark took to find the Northwest Passage, I think it is entirely possible that Sacagawea was just making it up as she went along.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that whether it be a marketing choice, a life decision or even a political proposal; we need to grant that that imperfection is certain and that we are all in this together. The first solution may not be perfect but the action will produce more learning than all the analysis in the world. Make sure there are no alligators, and jump in. Our lives depend on it.