The USS New Mexico is an 8,000 ton attack class American nuclear sub; a 377 feet long pressurized metal tube running deep beneath the sea. The tolerance for error is minuscule; “As one officer put it ‘you become addicted to integrity’. There is zero tolerance for hiding any mistake. The sense of ownership and mutual accountability is palpable.” NYT, Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle, Sunday Review, 3/30/14 p. 1

Extraordinarily enough, this nuclear submarine is manned by mostly 20-somethings, young people who somehow are part of a culture of excellence in a time when some believe that excellence and high standards are expecting too much.

I have been told that setting high goals sets people up for failure and thus is demotivating. On the contrary, I believe that there is undiscovered greatness in everyone and that people yearn to be part of something great; that stretches their goals, inspires and motivates them to achieve higher standards. I’d be the first to agree that people need the freedom to ‘fail forward’ in non-catastrophic ways; no one can push the edge of the envelope without the occasional stumble.

Any outcome is a success if you can build on it or learn from it. Even if your goal was a home run, first base still represents a successful outcome.


Closing Quotes:

“Fail Often, Fail Quickly, Fail Cheaply”

“You fail at everything you don’t try; think you can, think you can’t, you are right!”

“Some folks can learn from the mistakes of others, some insist on making them personally.”