'When You Do Something Guaranteed To Succeed, You Close The Door'

It's easy to take on projects that you know you'll finish successfully, but as designer Milton Glaser (who's most famous for the I♥NY logo) points out, "When you do something that's guaranteed to succeed, you close the door to the possibility of discovery."

Failure is inevitable, and it's one of the ways we get better and learn. Every time we take on a project that's guaranteed to succeed, we're not creating that challenge that makes us better at whatever we're practicing. Glaser talks about how he balances his work between taking on jobs he knows how to do and jobs where he's forced to learn new skills in order to keep discovering new ideas. It's a nice reminder that stepping outside of your comfort zone is almost always a good idea.

Milton Glaser: Good Life Project [YouTube via Brain Pickings]


    I step out of my comfort zone most days, just by going to work [*]. Some days will have fewer and probably achievable challenges (achievable one way or another), other days will present with more in number and more difficult challenges.

    However I don't agree that failure is inevitable, it's just one of a number of adjectives that could be used to describe outcomes. It's also a question of emphasis. Is an over budget project necessarily a failure? (Opera House, Harbour Bridge.) Is a late project a failure? (Snowy Mountains scheme, NBN.) Projects have different metrics for different stakeholders, and as that trite old saying goes, "you can't please all the people all the time...".

    [*] and I refrained from mentioning the morning traffic.

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