Failing to Succeed

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One of my great joys is receiving updates from individuals and causes with whom I have partnered.  I always hearing updates on their latest adventure.  Often these get-togethers include tales of new summits climbed and being lost in valleys of disorientation.  What I treasurer is the maps that each cause creates to find their own way.  Sometimes these adventures include finding a resource that is particularly relevant to their situation.


My friend Tara founded the remarkable enterprise, Create Common Good. When we met yesterday, she recommended the book Little Bets, by Peter Sims which I immediately started reading.  Peter suggests that many of the most entrepreneurial individuals look at opportunity through the lens of what they could afford to lose and not solely by thinking about what could be gained.  He points out that even the largest enterprises that continue to maintain their entrepreneurial spirit make little bets constantly.  A pitfall for those that gain a little success is that they being to focus only on big bets.

“There’s a natural tendency to think in terms of bigger bets as you get to be bigger”

Peter’s book explores some of the most successful individuals who continue to make small bets constantly before finding one success among many failures.  Comedian Chris Rock takes to a small comedy club stage with a notepad of bits that are very much in draft form and tries little pieces of his act many times before ever stepping in front of an HBO camera.  He is their to fail repeatedly but he is looking for the few lines that produce the laughter that seems to follow him everywhere when he takes his act to the big stage.


Tara’s cause, Create Common Good has been taking little bets for more than three years in its current form.  She knew that there was an amazing opportunity to serve and incorporate individuals and families from the local refugee population into the community.  The evolution of Create Common Good’s program is remarkable but was certainly not one that could be mapped out when they started.  It was only with this trial and error approach that they found themselves with a model that is now being recruited to other towns across the nation.  It is important to recognize the donors and volunteers who were equally willing to make little bets with their contributions.   They also recognized that there was a way to develop a partnership between those who needed the most support but in many ways had the most to offer the community in return.


What type of bets are you taking?  How does your enterprise respond to success and failure?  What is the best little bet your cause has ever made?

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