It’s only milk

The other day my two-and-a-half-year old daughter tried to pour a cup of milk and spilled it everywhere.

My first thought was Great, now I have to clean this mess up too. Ugh!

As I was cleaning up, I realized she didn’t pour milk to make a mess or tick me off. She was trying to learn a new skill. If I don’t allow her to make a mess, how will she learn to do it on her own?

Of course, this is a metaphor for the failures we experience in life and in our work.

If we can’t hold space for people to learn, try, fail and try again, and if we respond to messy outcomes with punishment, people learn very quickly not to try. 

From my experience, I’ve realized that our capacity for learning and trying new things is never greater than our ability to accept that failure will happen and we will screw up.

You can’t get to mastery without failing. Period.

If the consequences don’t hurt anyone or put people at risk for harm, go ahead and pour the milk.

It can’t hurt to try.