On Monday my dear friend, collaborator and Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist Frederik Pferdt presented a riddle to Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier at a luncheon we both attended. Frederik asked all attendees at the event to close their eyes and listen carefully as he vocalized some seemingly simple math:
“One plus one is two.”
“Two plus two is four.”
“Three plus two is six.”
“Six plus two is eight.”
Altmaier vocalized what many of us surely thought — when Frederik finalized his third equation he muttered: “Wrong.”
Of course it is wrong. And that is the point.
Pretty much all of us have a strong bias towards identifying what is wrong instead of acknowledging what is right and focusing on the learnings. Nobody gave Frederik kudos for getting a whopping 75% of his math right. Nobody asked what we can learn from his mistake. Instead we all zeroed in on the fact that he made a mistake.
If you want to get better, focus on the learning not on the failure.