Productivity

How Embracing Failure Boosts Creativity

We regularly remind Lifehacker readers of the importance of embracing failure as a learning experience. Here’s another reason why accepting the possibility of failure is importance.

Images by Karen Dalziel and me

Our brains don’t always act in our best interests and often default to irrational decisions. Heidi Grant Halvorson, writing for productivity and ideas blog the 99u, points out that when we try to eliminate failure we also eliminate a lot of our creative ability:

The problem with the Be-Good mindset is that it tends to cause problems when we are faced with something unfamiliar or difficult. We start worrying about making mistakes, because mistakes mean that we lack ability, and this creates a lot of anxiety and frustration. Anxiety and frustration, in turn, undermine performance by compromising our working memory, disrupting the many cognitive processes we rely on for creative and analytical thinking. Also, when we focus too much on doing things perfectly (i.e., being good), we don’t engage in the kind of exploratory thinking and behaviour that creates new knowledge and innovation.

While all you really have to do is accept that you’re imperfect and allow yourself to make mistakes, you’re not going to suddenly lose your anxiety and frustration over failure in an instant. When you fail, continue to remind yourself how important it is that you did and find what you learned from it. Most of us make that effort already, but remember to keep it in mind beforehand as well or you might prevent yourself from doing something great.

Why You Should Give Yourself Permission to Screw Up [The 99u]