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.

Regina’s thesis:

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.

8 minutes

Here’s How Failure Can Be Great!

In a world so full of advances of course there have been a few set backs. The Museum of Failure in Sweden has curated some of the best for us to view and to see that yes, failure is always an option and it has so much to teach us.

Read More

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”!

Via: TED 1

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.

19 minutes

How to Stay Calm When You’re Going Blind in Space

What's the scariest thing you've ever done? Did you come away from it transformed in a good way? Here's a story about where the emotion of fear can be teased apart from our actual options.

Read More

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!

Thought Leaders on EWC

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.


  1. 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>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Ever Widening Circles Podcast--new episodes every Thursday!

In this Circle

Sam Berns and His Happiness Secrets

17 minutes

[ Curators' Best ]

By Dr. Lynda

Have you heard 17 year old, Sam Berns' secrets to a happy life? I watch this TED Talk periodically as a refresher course, no matter how busy I am - and maybe because of that. See why!
Read More

DARPA: Removing the Fear of Failure

19 minutes

[ Conspiracy of Goodness ]

By Dr. Lynda

What would our lives look like if we could shake our fear of failure? What would you try tomorrow if failure wasn't a bad thing? Enter: DARPA, a place we might find a new mindset! Take a look at the TED Talk by Regina Dugan and become a better you!
Read More

The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

19 minutes

[ Business ]

By Dr. Lynda

Despite what the negative 24-hour news cycle tells us, it turns out that the world is NOT actually going to hell in a handbasket! Things are getting better and there's solid data to prove it! Learn more in today's feature.
Read More

Save the Shoes! (Don’t Wait to be a Hero!)

9 minutes

[ Education Enrichment ]

By Dr. Lynda

After years of dreaming of heroics, firefighter Mark Bezos rushed into a burning house... to save shoes? And you can too! Find out what we mean in today's feature.
Read More

Making Struggle and Vulnerability a Good Thing!

38 minutes

[ Business ]

By Dr. Lynda

What could possibly be good about Struggle and Vulnerability? Don't we spend every waking moment trying to avoid them both!? Turns out there are some amazingly valuable things to celebrate about both!
Read More

Monica Lewinsky Can Teach Us a Lot

23 minutes

[ Education ]

By Dr. Lynda

If shame and fear were only minor players in the news media, we'd be looking at blank screens about 90% of the time. Monica Lewinsky has some really important insights on this. We were blown away by this TED Talk.
Read More

Do You Have a Creative Genius?

20 minutes

[ Art ]

By Dr. Lynda

What is creativity? Is our modern way of thinking about it wong? It's hard to put a finger on inspiration, but author Elizabeth Gilbert thinks that the answer to our creative woes might require turning to the past for answers. Check out her incredible TED Talk!
Read More

Discovering Hope When Things Seem Hopeless

14 minutes

[ Conspiracy of Goodness ]

By Dr. Lynda

How can we change our mindsets and find hope when all seems hopeless? This amazing TED Talk from Peta Murchinson might open your eyes to see the light once again.
Read More

99 Problems and Palsy is Just One of Them

12 minutes

[ Happiness & Hope ]

By Dr. Lynda

It's easy to get bogged down by things that threaten to hold us back. But today we introduce you to a woman who's found both humor and grit in a unique perspective on taking things as they come. Take a look!
Read More