Things rarely go right the first time.
This is true on the micro and macro scale. Long term plans fail to materialize, and bugs materialize in code the second you think you’re finished. Failure is a force of nature.
Failure is defined as a lack of success. Paradoxically, many sayings hold failure up as a necessity for success.
I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~ Thomas Edison
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. ~ C. S. Lewis
Currently, in many major cities there is an event called FailCon where startup founders “learn from and prepare for failure”. I think that it’s a really good idea, to bring startup founders together and discuss failures. It’s a great way to avoid collectively falling into survivorship bias.
Why are we so obsessed with failing when it is, by definition, the opposite of what we want to achieve. Why are slogans like “Fail Faster” a thing?
Failure is hard to deal with, especially when pride is involved. In a way, normalizing failure is beneficial as we will all have to stare it down eventually. If you have the belief that you will never fail, at the first misstep your worldview will definitely be altered. The acceptance of potential failure makes us humble. However, I do not think that failure is required.
Yes, failing is one of the best teachers out there. Learning a lesson “the hard way” lasts a life time, as unpleasant as it is. However, it seems absurd to advise people to seek out failure. What’s important is to normalize failure, and know that it is ok to fail… as long as you learn. If you do not learn from failures then, well, you have actually failed.
The only upside to a failure is the potential opportunity for growth and learning. Being comfortable with failure also allows you to venture outside of your comfort zone.
When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. ~ Eloise Ristad
This article does not make me proud, but I have challenged myself to publish every day. Instead of skipping today because I didn’t have any good ideas, I wrote this stream-of-consciousness word vomit on the topic of failure. Ironic. But there are so many more interesting thoughts to have on this subject, about how failing fast is good, and why it is also stupid… so perhaps that’s the topic of a future article.