Not Afraid of Dreaming Big-Not Afraid of Failing Fast
By Susana García-Robles, WeXchange Co-Founder and Principal Specialist at the Multilateral Investment Fund
Picture a street anywhere in Latin America or the Caribbean. A woman in high heels stumbles on the sidewalk, falls flat on her face, cuts her knee, and her tights get a big run and hole in them.
How does she react?
She looks around, sees three people running to help her, turns as red as her bleeding knee, and jumps up. She tells them, “Nothing happened”, and she walks away as fast as she can.
When she gets to her office, colleagues notice the run in her stockings and the scrape on her knee and they ask what happened. She comes up with a foolish remark to hide her shame: “A stupid biker ran into me”, and she starts complaining about the police, the mayor, and the quality of life in the city.
Now let’s picture a street anywhere in the US.
A woman in high heels stumbles on the sidewalk, falls flat on her face, cuts her knee, and her tights get a big run and hole in them.
How does she react?
She looks around, sees three people running to help her, lets them help her to her feet, dusts off her clothes, and thanks everyone for their kindness.
When she gets to her office, colleagues notice the run in her stockings and the scrape on her knee and they ask what happened. She says, “Can you believe how clumsy I am? My husband calls me Miss Congeniality, I’m always tripping! People were so nice, it gives you faith in humanity!”
Many of you have seen me do a skit about this on stage because one of the main obstacles for women to become successful serial entrepreneurs in LAC is the Fear of Failure.
The “F” word frightens us to no degree because we have been told that toadmit failuremeans that you are a failure, a failed person. Fail once and you’re a failure.
So engrained in the culture of our region is this perverse notion that we tend to forget that the most common experience to all of us is the experience of having failed at something. We all have plenty of failures in our personal and professional lives.
As women entrepreneurs, when we think about success we’re convinced that it relies in part on our capacity to be undeterred and resilient when facing obstacles. So at WeXchange**, we’ve decided to make the 2015 edition revolve around how we deal with failure and what we make of it. In doing so, I fulfill my wish expressed in the first WeXchange edition to have an event in which we could deal with the “F “word head-on, without taboos or pre-conceived notions.
With the INCmty conference as backdrop --a festival that celebrates entrepreneurship--, at WeXchange we are going to celebrate our failures and the lessons learned. We want to think big, dream big, and, if needed, fail fast so that we learn even faster, and then go at it again. It’s a cycle: It starts, ends, and starts again.
Last year, WeXchange 2014 keynote Linda Rottenberg, Endeavor co-founder, encouraged us to embrace being “flawsome” instead of aiming always at being “awesome.”
Now, I ask all of us to reflect: How many times a day do we get upset about our shortcomings, or worse, we get upset when they’re obvious to our friends, colleagues and relatives? How many times do we make excuses or we bristle at constructive criticism?
As a mentor to many younger colleagues and entrepreneurs, I’d say we all fall into this situation too many times, preventing us from receiving feedback, and improving from our mistakes.
For two years now, the participants at WeXchange have left the event with a printed License To Fail. It reads: “You have not Failed, if you Learn from your Mistakes.” I borrowed this idea from a Colombian colleague living in Boston who told me that, to his surprise, his 8-year old daughter had brought home a similar permission from her grade school teacher.
Let’s dream of that situation happening in the schools of our region!!!
Your life is like a movie. Do you want to sit in the audience, or do you want to be your own director?
Ms. Director, how’s this for a soundtrack? “Not Afraid of Dreaming Big, Not Afraid of Failing Fast.” We’ll play it for you at WeXchange 2015 in Monterrey, Mexico on November 19th and 20th!
**WeXchange, founded in 2013 by the Multilateral Investment Fund, member of the IDB Group, is a platform that connects dynamic women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean, mentors and investors. In its first two editions, the forum gathered over 200 dynamic entrepreneurs, 60 mentors and 150 investors and experts from 17 countries. To learn more, visit www.wexchange.co
Susana Garcia-Robles, MIF Principal Specialist, in charge of the Early Stage Equity Group, co-Founded Wexchange in 2013 with Monica Pina-Alzugaray, as an intraprenurial initiative, later adopted by the MIF and IDB Demand Solutions.