72. Failure Is an Option, but Fear Is Not
So, when I came back to make my next movie, which was "Avatar," I tried to apply that same principle of leadership which is that you respect your team, and you earn their respect in return. And it really changed the dynamic, So, here I was again with a small team, in uncharted territory doing "Avatar," coming up with new technology that didn't exist before. Tremendously exciting. Tremendously challenging. And we became a family, over a four and half year period. And it completely changed how I do movies.
So, people have commented on how, well, you know, you brought back the ocean organisms and put them on the planet of Pandora. To me it was more of a fundamental way of doing business, the process itself, that changed as a result of that.
So, what can we synthesize out of all this? You know, what are the lessons learned? Well, I think number one is curiosity. It's the most powerful thing you own. Imagination is a force that can actually manifest a reality. And the respect of your team is more important than all the laurels in the world. I have young film makers come up to me and say, "Give me some advice for doing this." And I say, "Don't put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you. Don't do it to yourself. Don't bet against yourself. And take risks."
NASA has this phrase that they like: "Failure is not an option." But failure has to be an option in art and in exploration, because it's a leap of faith. And no important endeavor that required innovation was done without risk. You have to be willing to take those risks. So, that's the thought I would leave you with, is that in whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not.