My article titled To Succeed in Business, Act Like a Child got published on The Washington Post – On Small Business Blog today. In the article I describe how if we want to encourage innovation in business we should follow the examples set by our children with their creativity, ambition, and fearlessness. As we get older we lose our tolerance for risk-taking and failure. We become conditioned to mitigate risks to preserve our wealth and egos. But there are ways that business leaders can promote risk-taking and failure: 1) intentionally hiring risk-takers, 2) creating policies that retain innovators, 3) purposely addressing risk-taking and failure, and 4) demonstrating transparency.
Last year I was amazed by a couple of stories that had hit the media about kids who had made amazing scientific discoveries. Jack Andraka, who was 15 at the time, had discovered an inexpensive and accurate test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers. Check out his seven minute video from the TED Talent Search. Another innovation teen Catherine Wong, who was 17 at the time, had created a prototype of a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) that can connect to a cell phone via Bluetooth and transmit the results over a cellular network. As both told their stories it was remarkable how they were undaunted by the trial and error process. They were not deterred by failure or setbacks and they simply kept trying. But where do kids learn not to fear failure and develop the courage to pick themselves up and keep moving forward?
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