CEO Insights: The Risk and Reward of Failure

kerwin brown headshot happy

I often wonder what my 11- or 12-year-old self would make of where I’m at in my life today. Would I really believe that the choices I was making would lead to where I am now? It’s an interesting question. Do we embrace a life where we choose decisions designed to impact our lives in the immediate and in the future? Are we consciously looking for ways to “shake things up” or do we prefer a known point of view? I think, both personally and professionally, it’s important to ask if we’re sticking to a path that’s perceived to be “safe” or are we choosing to venture into the unknown.


Power of Choice

The power of choice is a dichotomy that creates a level of discomfort that can typically be negated by either choosing the path that’s known, or by welcoming discomfort through trying something new. For instance, do you order a favorite meal at a restaurant or try the new special? Do you seek out new conversations or look for comfort in the reinforcement of known opinions and ideas?

Taking the unknown path is often scary and won’t always guarantee success. In my new podcast On A Roll with Kerwin Brown, one of my guests said something that really stuck with me. He said that while success creates a broad platform, failure focuses you. When receiving bad news or faced with a bad turn, failure demands facing the outcome(s) quickly. It necessitates a willingness to deal with the path immediately in place, accepting the outcome for what it is in the moment.


Navigating Pain Points

As individuals and as an industry we are here to answer the pain points for our customers. This is never a straightforward path, and the good answers and solutions for today, most likely will not answer the questions of tomorrow.  In an ongoing effort to meet the needs of the baking industry and its customers where they are now, BEMA is embarking on its own path of trying new things – welcoming the learning and growth that comes from embracing failure as a tool for exploration.

This includes collaborating with industry thought leaders in new media such as podcasts, connecting industry partners through new events and creating ways for the industry to engage in-person and virtually. It’s a path that we continue to explore as we reimagine new ways to learn from and with each other. It’s a break from what we know and there’s an inherent discomfort that can make you question if the “old way” was so bad after all.


Embracing Unknowns

What helps us keep our renewed focus is a continual reminder to release thoughts of perfection in order to embrace the awe of trying to accomplish something new. Through practice and dedication, we’re becoming more comfortable with being the person or the organization who seeks out the new – thus expanding our knowledge, experience and view of the world. My new podcast is also taking me outside my comfort zone and with it comes a possibility of risk and failure. But as I think about all the things I will learn and the potential of growth, that uncertainty is worth the risk.

1 Comment
  • Jennifer Lindsey
    Posted at 10:22h, 27 March Reply

    Bravo! This post is so true. Your younger self would be proud of you Kerwin. The 20 – 30-year-old self would probably seek to be approved and take more a safe, well known path. the 50+ self probably realized there is NO perfect path. Wisdom, I believe, is realizing you really don’t know anything and being comfortable with that fact. I means you are curious and open to learning – always. Great post!

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