Regina Dugan’s TED 2012 Talk

April 12th, 2012 by Erwin Gianchandani Post a comment »

Regina Dugan delivering her TED talk in late February [image courtesy the TED Blog].Recently-departed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Director Regina Dugan gave a “breathtaking” TEDTalk at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, in late February, describing some of the extraordinary projects — a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, etc. — funded by her agency, and the paths to success.

Dugan began:

You should be nice to nerds. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, “If you don’t already have a nerd in your life, you should get one.” I’m just sayin’.

 

Scientists and engineers change the world.

 

I’d like to tell you about a magical place called DARPA where scientists and engineers defy the impossible and refuse to fear failure.

 

Now these two ideas are connected more than you realize, because when you remove the fear of failure, impossible things suddenly become possible. If you want to know how, ask yourself this question: ‘What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?’

 

If you really ask yourself this question, you can’t help but feel uncomfortable. I feel a little uncomfortable.

 

Because when you ask it, you begin to understand how the fear of failure constrains you — how it keeps us from attempting great things. And life gets dull. Amazing things stop happening. Sure, good things happen. But amazing things stop happening.

 

Now i should be clear: I’m not encouraging failure. I’m discouraging fear of failure, because it’s not failure itself that contrains us. The path to truly new, never-been-done-before things always has failure along the way. We’re tested. And in part that testing feels an appropriate part of achieving something great.

 

Clemenceau said, “Life gets interesting when we fail, because it’s a sign that we’ve surpassed ourselves.”

Watch the full video — about 25 minutes in length — following the jump…

…and read more about Dugan’s TEDTalk here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)