Failure…Or Building Good Judgment?

March 10, 2015 — Auckland, New Zealand

While I have been taking part in the first One Ton Cup Revisited regatta in the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, NZ, I had the fun of spending quality time with salty fellow sailors. While there, I have also had the chance to stay with and speak to New Zealand Entrepreneur Owner-Managers (EOMs). In the sailing domain, it is clear to me why the Kiwis have emerged as dominant on the seas since the 1970’s. In the EOM domain, I observed that many of the seasoned successful entrepreneurs I met shared their top character strengths with successful offshore sailors. As I think about the hard problem of human consciousness in this context, I reflect on (what we subjectively view as) making mistakes, errors in judgment, failures instead of wins, the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” topics that EOMs (and sailors) sometimes ruminate on. I came to this equation:

  1. Since good judgment comes from experience; and
  2. Since experience comes from making some bad judgments; then
  3. Therefore, it follows that good judgment comes from some bad judgments.

As Entrepreneur Owner-Managers (or as sailors) we cannot avoid making mistakes or having failures. No matter how much we focus on our strengths, there are simply problems and challenges we cannot see. As humans, we have cognitive limits of perception. We have (individual) limits of consciousness. And how much we are truly able to see is obscured through the lens of our personal view (personal cognitive biases).
So failures are out there, and mistakes along our life arc are inevitable, right?  Since to build good judgment (high Phi) you need to make some bad judgments, then it seems to me that we’ll all be happier and more productive if we would just hurry up and go take action, because we are going to make mistakes anyway. Moving quickly is a plus because it prevents us from getting stuck anxiously ruminating about whether our chosen course is the wrong one. There’s a chance it is. Instead, why not be decisive? Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Correct them on the fly—as fast as possible. Build on your strengths. You are confident knowing that your bad judgments – corrected and learned from – are the basis for your good judgments in the future.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about the One Ton Cup Revisited, you may enjoy this two minute film clip about it produced by the Volvo Ocean Race people: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/8546_One-giant-leap.html.