Failure must be an option


I heard Elon Musk say this in an interview about his hiring practices. He values innovation and doesn’t like it when “bold moves that go wrong are punished,” he said, “and keeping your head down isn’t”.

He rewards people who take risks and lets go of people who don’t. Which is no doubt a key to his success, even if there is a lot of breakage along the way.

If you aren’t willing to accept the risk of failure, you aren’t trying hard enough. You can’t innovate, reach higher, or go further, if you’re not willing to pay the price if things go wrong.

I thought about how a lawyer might apply this philosophy to building a practice or career.

We help clients avoid and minimize risk; must we always do this for ourselves?

No. Not if we want to grow.

We can’t grow without trying new ideas. If we’re focused on avoiding risk, we’re unlikely to do anything that might lead to significant reward.

Fortunately, innovation isn’t our top priority. We’re not in tech or space or anything cutting edge, with the eyes of the world, investors, regulators, and competitors upon us. We’re not putting billions of dollars on the line and risking everything venturing into unknown territory.

We can try new ideas on a small scale, take time to get them right, and be satisfied with incremental growth.

We may never fly to Mars, but we can make a fortune helping the people who do.

And that works for me. How about you?