Brain in head with hi-tech cyber themeAs captured in part one, The Words We Use, innovation is an oscillating process between success and failure, planning and prototype, and rethinking and reimagining. Success is virtually impossible without failure. It’s okay to admit it: We all think about maximizing success and minimizing failure. If we are really pressed as to why we disdain failure, it’s because of our binary thinking. We conclude that we have to start all over, at the beginning. But do we?

Perhaps if we reframe our thinking of failure, we might gain comfort in the simple fact that we don’t have to go to the back of the line (this is no amusement park). Rather, we simply step back, step down to a lower stair to reenergize and rethink. And our rethinking must occur in layers, three layers to be precise: the known, the unknown and the unknown unknown.

These necessary words uttered by Donald Rumsfeld can be renamed as outcomes, lessons yet to be learned and the strategies yet to be developed. Whether in business or sports, these three phases propel us toward success through action and feedback.

The coolest thing is that we are built for action, feedback and survival. We are first and foremost a cognitive species, a biological and competitive phenomenon able to adapt through experiences. Granted these experiences might be unpleasant in the moment, but absorb these lessons and reimagine your approach.

Similar to training for a swimming event or a tennis match, practice perfects technique. But practice is tactical, not strategic. Gable’s Iowa Wrestling Dynasty was built through recruiting and strategy, the mental step forward into the unknown unknowns. Gable hired a sports psychologist to move beyond mortal goals of National Champions to the fantastic dreams of Olympia.

It is a mental journey that is part fantasy in the beginning, but morphs to reality through confident imagery and necessary understandings ahead. Just stop for a second and ask: Who in their right mind thinks s/he can win an Olympic gold medal? Seriously, this is wild and fantastic thinking.

But our innate oscillating and biological process yearns to understand outcomes, innovates on lessons learned and reimagines the possibilities. Enjoy and embrace this process of rebirth. In short, move beyond words to confidence reborn, germinated in our mind. Innovation remains a mental process of rebirth that makes possible the journey from lofty intangible aspirations to tangible accomplishments.