Screwing things up is a virtue

As somebody who lives by the mantra ‘screw it, let’s do it’, screwing up every now and then is a part of the deal. But rather than worry about failing, I have learned to embrace it and learn from it. 

Nevertheless, it is always helpful to read something that affirms I am on the right path on this front. As the pioneering painter Robert Rauschenberg said: “Screwing things up is a virtue. Being correct is never the point.”

It is amazing how many great ideas come out of little mistakes, how great businesses can be created by pivoting from one focus to another, and how many people find their turning points in unexpected places. All this month we are focusing on turning points, and I think many of these occur when we screw up, and learn from it. 

As Rauschenberg continued: “I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she re-spells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can't read what I wrote.” Like him, I make plenty of mistakes when I write things down, but I keep writing more and more notes, knowing this is the only way good ideas will surface.

To end Rauschenberg’s wise words: “Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea.” I am always very happy to be proved wrong. The key to this is listening. If you think you are always right, you will never listen, never learn and never improve. 

Where would the fun in that be? Now, this new year, go and screw things up, learn from it, and bounce back stronger. I’ll be aiming to do the same.


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