How Wrong Should You Be When Running A Business?
A look into how to create a business that challenges and grows you.
When I first took accounting, I sat next to a man who was a particularly high achiever. He wouldn’t settle for anything less than A on everything. He was dedicated to his work, but if he got anything less on a test, he would be severally disappointed in himself. So he worked hard and studied hard.
Me, on the other hand, was an average student. I received B’s and C’s on many of my tests and classes and very rarely did I receive an A on anything. I wasn’t particularly prideful about it, but I wasn’t disappointed. But deep down I was a bit jealous of those high achievers, and yet did nothing about it.
There are many of these types of people in the world and that is especially true when people enter the business world.
There are people who need to cover every single detail before they do anything and expect nothing short of perfection.
And there are those who perform at a lesser standard and yet yearn for something more and lack something in them to push through and rise up.
Much like with school, there is a balance. This balance is key to growing and having a challenging business. And that balance is having a balance between being wrong and being right.
It’s something that school has taught us so long ago. Most of us didn’t quite see it. We were too hung up about our marks and us being disappointed by them.
In the end, school taught us a valuable lesson in an unusual way.
It taught us…
How wrong should we be?
Robert Wilson is a cognitive scientist at the University of Arizona and discovered the sweet spot for learning and growth: 15 percent.
Someone who got 85% right and 15% wrong on a test, is a great fit for the class. Anything over and the test was too easy. Anything below was too hard.
This number was derived from experiments through machine learning and based off of loose assumptions. The article titled “The Eighty-Five Percent Rule For Optimal Learning” also aligns with previous work done on human and animal learning.
But how can we use that for business?
Last I checked, we don’t do any kind of tests year after year. But at the same time, we still go out and make mistakes.
And it’s worth going back and looking at those types of attitudes I mentioned above with this information.
Because those who are high achievers and want their 90% or higher mark are people who didn’t find the course challenging at all. For sure some will argue that they studied for hours every day, but that’s the point.
Perhaps they studied too hard.
Perhaps they studied so much that in the end, they didn’t find the course challenging or engaging. And maybe the class became a bit boring and a waste of time for them.
That attitude can seep into business.
When we don’t feel challenged, we aren’t as engaged in our business. We start to feel bored and we can lose our drive and purpose. It’s kind of like what I was feeling like earlier this week. Everything was going fine and there was little challenge. Things felt comfortable.
And it was boring.
Which is why I’m glad that some failures happened.
Looking at the other side those who are achieving below are those who will take bold steps. They’re not afraid to be wrong, however, they are lacking the capacity to develop themselves further. Something is missing.
They’re making too many mistakes and are failing to look at the bigger picture or to look deeper into the lessons that failure has taught them. The number of reasons is endless.
But it all comes back to that sweet spot: failing enough and being wrong enough that you can still grow.
Failure And Incorrectness Is Needed
A lot of us who have been running businesses know that failure and being wrong is necessary for business. But not many have stopped and thought about how many failures or how often we should be wrong.
Because running a business — while challenging — shouldn’t be a long gruelling struggle where we fail every single moment. Our brain simply can’t handle that. And if we were to fail constantly, our brain would force us to stop. And maybe even persuade us to never step out of our comfort zone again.
We need that balance. Enough success that we have the confidence to move forward, but still fail enough that we know there is a lot for us to learn and still learn.
Grasping this as early as possible is key for future people looking to start a new business.
Because you will fail.
And you’ll need to fail enough to keep things interesting.
In the end, failure is more than a harsh mentor. It’s a stimulant. It allows us to get back down to the ground and realize that we have a lot to learn. If you study and work hard in advance, you’ll make a business you don’t care about that much deep down. You’ve removed the challenge and opted for something within your comfort zone.
And while that may sound appealing to those who are failing seemingly constantly, I think that those who are failing more frequently are the truly high achievers. They’re not afraid to get out there and get dirty. They may not make the most perfect products or services and be as flawless as they seem to be, but they’re run by people who have the capacity to grow and develop themselves.
And that, in turn, can change the world.