What Happens When You Focus on Failure and Creativity?

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How are failure and creativity related? We all know the Japanese proverb, “fall down seven times, get up eight.” And usually that relates to being unafraid to fail, like kids are, and persevering, despite all odds. Most adults, unfortunately, are literally afraid of falling. Maybe that fear of failing (and falling) could be a physical as well as a psychological fear. We may get a little inflexible if we’re that afraid. You’ve all seen that person on the freeway, driving 35 miles-per-hour in a 65 miles-per-hour zone, white knuckling the steering wheel. By the way, you might like How Nostradamus Predicted Massive Twitter Failure.

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Failure is a Big Deal

To some people, failure is a huge deal. We’re all trained to get the good grades in school, not to try for D’s and F’s. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, talks about the importance of failure, and of the imagination. A mere seven years after her college graduation, she was poor, divorced, a single parent, and jobless. Without her failure, she might “never have found the determination to finish the work the most important to her.” And we all know how that turned out. Because her greatest fear had been realized and she was still alive, she was set free.

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Reframing Failure

We can’t plan ahead so much that we never fail, otherwise we risk having a life not worth living at all. And life is full of failures that need to be reframed so that we can move past them. Or else, like J.K. Rowling, if your own worst fear is realized then you can be set free. You might have never thought of it that way. I hadn’t.

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When Is Failure Not Failure?

Failure isn’t always failure in the typical sense. For instance, if you release a product that’s a great product but the market isn’t ready for it. Or if you have an idea, but no one listens to it. That may only mean that you’re ahead of your time.

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What If Failure Was Mandatory?

I like to play the “what if” game. Here’s one: what if failure was mandatory, and everyone was required to fail a certain number of times? How would that change businesses? There would be a lot more innovation, wouldn’t there? What are your thoughts on failure? Leave me a comment! Don’t be afraid to fail. Really.

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  1. A business with a culture of failure where employees are expected to fail a certain number of times would drive creativity. What an interesting thought.

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