The 100 Million Dollar Mistake (How Failure Spurs Growth)

This past weekend I attended the Leaders In Performance conference in NYC, a gathering of high performance leaders from the NBA, NFL, MLB, EPL and professional sports. The topics of the day were "what makes a great leader?" and "how to create the right environment for success?"

This is when I learned about the 100 million dollar mistake by NASA (yes, NASA!)

Dr. Ed Hoffman PhD, Chief Knowledge Officer at NASA shared a story about the importance of FAILURE in order to create the right environment for teamwork and success. This may sound odd, but Ed is a strong believer (as were seemingly the overwhelming majority in the crowd) that failure is what spurs growth.

This is when Dr. Hoffman shared his story about NASA's 100 million dollar mistake, which happened while NASA was fixing one of their new, state-of-the-art, and very expensive satellites. The most brilliants minds in the country we're gathered together to get the satellite back on track and when the unthinkable happened... the satellite fell over and broke! (Seriously).

All of those brilliant minds and no one bothered to check the satellite was bolted to the wall!

Dr. Hoffman went on to highlight that when everyone in the room is afraid to ask the "stupid question" or afraid to voice their opinion to superiors who are believed to be "smarter", it stagnates growth and creativity. Ed firmly believes "it's all the little things that create success and build a culture".

While it's not always easy to create this environment, leaders from the world of business and sport seem to agree it's essential for success. Here are 3 more valuable quotes from leaders of high performance teams that reinforce that mantra;

"People, environment and learning are the most important factors in building a culture that attracts talent"
- Wes Wilcox, Atlanta Hawks (NBA)

"Develop strategic patience - it's ok to take one step back to take three steps forward!"
- Mike Preston, Chief Talent Officer Deloitte

"The superhero mentality is flawed. A real leader is PART of the team, NOT up on a pedestal."
- Jeff Eggers, former Navy Seal

You’ll find your true character, and that of your team, during moments of failure. Let past failure spur the growth that allows you to thrive and succeed!

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS