Peter Sims’ talk on his book Little Bets was an encouraging presentation that focused on reiterating the notion that in order to succeed in creative endeavors you have to take small risks, fail a lot, and get back in the saddle. While I’m not trying to start my own company just yet, Sims’ words were exactly what I needed to hear. Every day I find myself crippled at the thought of making a decision or starting a project because the floor of self-doubt begins. Sims had examples from highly successful businessmen like Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, Frank Gehry, and Jerry Seinfeld who all face the same daily fear of failure. As a devout Seinfeld fan, the clip from the 2002 movie The Comedian, where Seinfeld fumbles on stage, resonated quite well with me. I know he’s genius, but he’s also human. The moments I catch myself in where I’m not living up to my own expectation are normal and part of the process of growth. We all fall down sometimes, even after we’ve been at it for a long time.
Sims brought up many questions that made me re-examine my own anxieties. What is failure? Why am I afraid to fail? But importantly, how can these so called failures be lessons to create something great because nothing is born as a great idea. Also, once we have a great idea how can we fix the problems along the way with constructive criticism and group work? It was a humbling reminder to get out of my head and get dialgoues going because the only way to start something successful…is to start.
Sims talked about the importance of playing in the early stages of the creative process to re-stimulate ourselves– something that is so easily forgotten in our busy, overworked lives. He went on to explain the different kinds of innovators (conceptual and experimental), healthy and unhealthy pectionism, the importance of being resilient after porjects don’t go as anticipated,the roles of research, discovery, and process, and how small wins help us take steps and gain momentum towards our dreams. It was exactly what I needed to hear in order to put one foot in front of the other.