Environment to fail

At every juncture of the spectrum of resources, we will find excuses not to fail. When we have little, we think failure is fatal. When we have a bit more, taking risk is a bit reckless. Then when we have even more, it can seem there is no need to take as much risks. And the story goes on.

It has more to do with culture than resources or incentives. In Singapore, we see incentives applied by government to enterprises who venture abroad, start businesses, invest in new things. The idea is that by partaking in some of the risks, people can take more of it. And that assumes you’re not changing the fundamental risk aversion of people. But you might just be doing that. The culture can start telling a story that entrepreneurship is not worth it without incentives. And worst, you can have armies of entrepreneurs focused on navigating bureacracy than the perils of the market, in search of grants than of market opportunities.

We can tell a different story about risk-taking. When you have little or nothing, there’s nothing to lose. When you have a bit more, it should not be so hard to make it back when you lose it. And when you have more resources, there is more cushion to fail. As a society, if we can grow to be tolerant of failure, of seeing the beauty of learning and growing from failure, we can be in a better cultural environment.