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.
“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.”