What Children Can Teach Us About Risk, Failure, and Personal Growth


“If I limit myself to knowledge that I consider true beyond doubt,” E.F. Schumacher wrote in his timelessly wonderful A Guide for the Perplexed in 1977, “I minimize the risk of error but I maximize, at the same time, the risk of missing out on what may be the subtlest, most important and most rewarding things in life.” In the decades since, the notion of embracing risk and failure has become one of the most common tropes in motivational talks, self-help books and business articles alike. It’s been championed by everyone from Ray Bradbury, who considered failure essential to creativity, to Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, who argued for the importance of cultivating a failure-fearless culture, but none more eloquently than social science writer John W. Gardner in a section of Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society (public library) — his altogether fantastic, forgotten field guide to keeping your company and your soul vibrantly alive, which remains a must-read as much for entrepreneurs as for those of us on a private journey of self-transcendence.