You’ve really pulled out all the stops this time. You’ve come up with the BEST IDEA EVER. You muster the courage to show it to everybody and, da da duuuumm, it doesn’t work. You look for a rock to hide under. You hang your head in shame. You won’t try something like that again.  YOU ARE A FAILURE… but are you?

Research professor and therapist Bréne Brown claims, ‘Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.’ We hear esteemed business leaders, such as Richard Branson and Doug Richard, talk about the need to accept and embrace our mistakes as they create the learnings from which success is eventually achieved. Yet, most of us are conditioned to believe that vulnerability equals weakness.

Despite knowing that mistakes are OK, we don’t believe it. The majority of us continue to define our value and self worth only through our achievements. When and if we make a mistake we see it as a failure; not of what we’ve done but of who we are. That’s a pretty hefty fine to pay for making a mistake and so we avoid its possibility. We stick to the thinking and behaviours we know have worked in the past. This allows us to avoid the pain of failure, but it also stifles our potential for successes greater than we could ever imagine.

Businesses, particularly in the creative industries, talk about the importance of thinking “outside of the box”. They host big motivational meetings to convince employees that theirs is a corporate culture that encourages maverick thinking and behaviours. Yet, when it comes right down to it, they continue to produce the same old stuff – admittedly perhaps with a bit more pizazz.

We admire those who risked it all and won. We talk about their bravery, courage, and tenacity. We forget that along the way, they failed – over and over again. Until one day, they applied all the learnings from those mistakes and created something great. On his way to designing the light-bulb, Thomas Edison is reputed to have said that he never failed, he just “found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” So what’s stopping you from screwing up in the name of greatness?

Do you have the courage to be truely vulnerable? To risk the possibility of failure? Do you feel safe enough to allow your vulnerabilities to enhance your relationships and your work? Watch Brown’s thought provoking 2010 and 2012 TED Talks and find out how addressing shame and vulnerability could propel you and your business toward success and fulfillment.