What if Failure Didn’t Exist?

What if Failure Didn't Exist?

What if Failure Didn’t Exist?

Why do people think failure is such a good idea? After all, failure can hurt. You get up, you fall down, you break your toe. Or your nose. Your nose!  How can that be a good thing? And yet, people in the startup world, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, think of failure as the Holy Grail.

Trial By Fire

Trial By Fire

Trial By Fire

Failure is often defined by its opposite. It’s a lack of success, a falling short, the inability to reach a milestone or goal. Even by its definition, failure fails to deliver. And yet, businesses need failure. If everything was rosy all the time, we would always think we were doing well. And would you have any motivation to do better if you always got an A+ on every test? Probably not.

Fail Forward

Fail Forward

Fail Forward

Here in Silicon Valley, failure has always been touted as admirable. It’s a way to build character, a way to determine how startups operate under pressure, and, a way to find stories to tell later. Failing forward–that is, learning from mistakes–is a badge of courage. And naturally that Silicon Valley icon, Steve Jobs, was our greatest failure (think NeXT Computer). That is, until Apple came along.

Baby Steps to Failure

Baby Steps to Failure

Baby Steps to Failure

Maybe you aren’t ready to have a massive failure of the ilk that would make Steve Jobs proud. Could you start small? Say by experimenting in a tiny way with how you do your job, how you create your to-do list, or which route you drive to work? After all, starting with a small failure earlier is better than having a huge failure later, as this Forbes article about failing forward outlines. Being comfortable being uncomfortable is what it’s all about.

Failure Makes You a Better Social Media Marketer

As social media marketers, we are always experimenting. My friend Bridget Willard was just saying that she’s always trying new things. Partly, we test things so that our clients don’t have to go through what we go through. So the new plug-in goes on our blog first. The new method of posting with an image goes happens on our Twitter before theirs. Once the new method works, it’s ready for prime-time. And speaking of failure, maybe you’d be interested in reading about Ten of the Worst Social Managers.

National Failure Day

National Failure Day

National Failure Day

Here is the part where I was going to cleverly propose a National Failure Day. However, someone in Finland has beat me to it! You might not be surprised that the creator of Angry Birds has something to do with it. Rovio, who created Angry Birds, made 52 other games before finally creating Angry Birds. The other surprise is that the Finns traveled to Silicon Valley’s Failure Conference before going home and creating National Failure Day. So there.

Secret Sauce

Secret Sauce

Failure Is the Secret Sauce

If there was no failure, there would be no grit. There would be no workarounds. The “Aha” moments would be few and far between. Also, there would be no contrast. Without contrast, there would be no humor. And humor is something we need more of, don’t we?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. There is so much yes to this.

    A proper view of failure is important. Failure will happen. We can learn from it and grow.

    The alternative is blame and shame which destroys teamwork and morale.

    You need an environment of people you trust in order to have to courage to try and maybe fail.

    Thanks for the link, too.

    I think this one experiment that I had in mind is working out well. But you don’t know until you try.

    • Hi Bridget,

      Having the right support network will create the trust to try and then fail. Otherwise (as they found in Finland), people will be too afraid. Fear does not lead to trying new things, and they need more entrepreneurs there.

      Hmm…this may lead to another blog post. Thank you for your comment. Always thought provoking!

      Carol

  2. Isn’t it weird how many Holy Grails there are today. Things we must strive to acheive in order to reach a perfect life. And now we have to fail too!

    Kinda makes you smile.

    Having said that, I agree with you and Bridget entirely. You do need to fail in order innovate and continue to grow.

    Great thought provoking article.

    • Definitely agree with you, Kittie! As though the pressure to succeed isn’t enough, now we have to fail, too!

      Innovation and creativity need that failure!

      Thank you,
      Carol

  3. Afraid if I post this comment it will fail and

  4. OMG I HAVE FAILED!

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