Why it’s a mistake to focus on avoiding mistakes

It may have been in one of the books he reviewed, but I think it was Derek Sivers who said you don’t necessarily need to make all the right decisions to be successful – you just need to avoid making the wrong decisions.

That advice didn’t jive with me on a number of levels, but it wasn’t until just now that I realized the root culprit: it creates fear.

Instead of trying to make the best decision in a reasonable amount of time – “reasonable” meaning “faster than you’d think” – this advice forces you to focus on avoidance.

From my experience experimenting, I’d say avoidance is one of the worst ways to guide your decisions. Experimenting in itself counters that avoidance.

Maybe Sivers is right. Maybe mistakes kill you, not the good decisions you miss. I can see how that’s legit. Most major failures result from mistakes.

Even so, I don’t want to live that life, the one that avoids the adventure rather than embraces the fear. Even if Sivers is right, even if mistakes lead to failure (the way they often do), living as though he’s right, living to avoid mistakes, seems like a mistake in itself.