If you want to excel in your work, find your passion, or to climb the proverbial ladder, there’s something you have to do: you have to come up with new ideas, repeatedly.
And to do that, you have to get comfortable with failure. Enter the world-renowned organization for innovation: DARPA.
Today Ever Widening Circles (EWC) will transport you to a think tank full of fearless innovators at a magical place called DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) where scientists and engineers defy impossibility to build a new generation of remarkable technologies.
Researcher, and ex-DARPA director, Regina Dugan shows us what can happen when fear of failure is banished from every angle of the creative process.
You should be nice to nerds. If you don’t already have one in your life, get one. They are changing the world for us all. – Regina Dugan
Just think about the failures, the starting over and the crushing setbacks that it took to come up with the two wonders in the photo we opened with: the robot dogs. Real people with hopes and fears, and complex personal lives, and fragile egos – just like ours – created them!
But every science geek worth their salt will tell you that you have to risk swinging and missing a lot before you get a home run! History’s most incredible new innovations come from people who refused to give up. Anything was possible. They just kept swinging.
Here’s a great practical example that most of us haven’t heard about: Did you know that there are 3,700 communications satellites spinning around our planet right this moment, and 1,100 don’t even work anymore. The following image is a DARPA artist’s rendering of the Phoenix Concept II, a giant mechanism that could orbit the earth harvesting old communications satellites and re-purpose them!
This is what fearless genius can look like:
When you remove fear of failure from the equation, impossible things suddenly become possible. – Regina Dugan
The same way of thinking is available to you and me on a personal level. The saying, If we want something different than we’ve got, we have to do something different than we’ve done, was never truer.
And what would our lives look like if we could shake our fears of failure?
Watch the following TED talk and even just the first 3 minutes and 24 seconds, just see if you don’t feel like you can tackle something totally “impossible”!
Well now! What might you accomplish – even on a tiny personal level – if your self-conscious, fearful ego was not whispering “failure” in your ear?
Are good things happening in your life, but not AMAZING things? Maybe you’re not reaching past your comfort zone.
About 10 years ago I took some red lipstick and wrote an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, very large, at the top of the mirror in my kid’s bathroom. It still reads:
Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt
Ms. Roosevelt knew that every person was full of unrealized potential… if they could only shake their fear of trying something they once thought was impossible.
Think about it: most brilliant relationships, innovation, beauty, creativity, and peace efforts all come from a place where fear is not part of the equation.
Why should we care?
As “bad news” seems to grow louder every day, most of us think about changes that would make the world a better place. And most of us are capable of effecting change, even if it’s in a small way. It all adds up!
Perhaps our quiet thoughts on needed change (in our homes, workplace, or communities) are ideas that we just haven’t had the courage to try.
What would a world look like where we celebrated the lessons of failure as much as we revere success?
Stay open, hopeful and curious!
~ Dr. Lynda
Want to see more amazing thought leaders?
See who you can find in this category!
Oh, and have you subscribed to us yet? We’ll deliver our articles straight to your inbox as soon as their published! It’s the best way to join our community and stay up to date with what’s happening here at EWC.
- Dugan, Regina. “From Mach-20 Glider to Hummingbird Drone.” TED.com. TED, Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ted.com/talks/regina_dugan_from_mach_20_glider_to_humming_bird_drone?share=1e02e8f6d0>. ↩