Thousands of attempts

Thomas Edison made thousands of attempts before the light bulb actually worked. And it was great when it worked. And I’ve never heard anyone bemoan the thousands of failures. They were, dare I say, worth it to get to the end result.

There’s this video that I love. And by love I mean, I might have had my team watch it at least 50 times. Honda made the video, but it’s only peripherally about Honda…or cars. It’s really about innovation. And it’s literally overflowing with stories of failure.


If you listen to these folks in the video, and the message is pretty clear, in order to innovate, you are most likely going to fail along the way. A lot.

This is not new news, right? We know this. It’s a cliche, for heaven’s sake—I think it’s actually the meat of several. I believe it was written, in one way or another, on one of those posters with a kitty trying to jump out of a flower pot that was on the wall of my 3rd grade classroom.

Here’s the interesting thing: we all understand that to try new things, to go where no one has gone before, we’re likely going to fall on our face a few times. So why are we so hard on both ourselves and others when mistakes are made as a direct result of greatness trying to be achieved?

This play between innovation and failure happens during the meeting creation and production process. How can it not when it happens in every other aspect of the business world? Think of all the ‘new’ that’s happening:

(the short list:)

– a new theme

– new audience participation tactics

– new presentation technology

– new environmental design

– new speakers

– a new program layout

Now, I’m not suggesting that you try something new and have your very important meeting fail. What I’m saying is that throughout the development of your meeting, you should try new things. New things that you back up, down and sideways.

People and companies that are really good at what they do and are leaders in their industries, are so because they push—past what’s been done, past what people expect, past what (some) people will tolerate. As a result, they bump against people that resist, shut down, turn away and blame—in short, people that are scared of failure.

Guess what? The boundary pushers are scared, too. But they know it’s worth it in the end.


Check out the video. In my humble opinion, a fabulous addition to your day.

Leave a Reply