Fail Hard, Fail Fast, Fail Spectacularly: How To Fail To Success

Fail hard, fail fast, fail spectacularly: how to fail to success

Failure: it’s not what you strive for. It’s the opposite of success. It means you’ve done something wrong. Or so you thought.

In Silicon Valley, the cradle of innovation, failure is celebrated. An industry built on success, celebrates failures. Why?

Failures are not the end of a journey. They’re an important step along the way. But we’re taught to avoid failure from such a young age. It’s not easy to embrace what you’ve been taught is wrong.

Failure isn’t bad: it’s part of learning

Nobody is perfect. And nobody masters a skill overnight. Failure is just a part of the learning process, or as the famed children’s author C.S. Lewis put it: “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

In order to get better at something, you’ll need to fail. You need to do something wrong in order to get it right. Think of how limited humanity would be if we just stuck with what we knew. If we just did things the way that had worked first time. There would be no electricity. No lights. No internet.

Making mistakes teaches you how not to do things. But they can also lead you down a different path.

Failing is important for creativity

Maybe you set out to learn how to do something new. Maybe you did it wrong – but spotted a problem in the process. Or maybe, like Alexander Fleming, you started doing one thing, did it wrong and discovered something entirely different in the process.

Fleming discovered penicillin when he failed to wash a petri dish thoroughly, before heading away for a couple of weeks. He failed at cleaning, and in his bacteria experiment. But he discovered antibiotics.

By being open and accepting of failure, you don’t just learn the “right” way. You can learn new skills, or uncover different perspectives.

As the now iconic, but controversial in her time, Coco Chanel put it: “Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” Rather than view failure as a definite outcome, see it as a by-product of experimenting, learning and succeeding.

Failure helps you appreciate your success

Failure is fuel. It teaches you grit, that key aspect of Emotional Intelligence. It pushes you to do better and be more.

In fact, without failure, you might not know success. After all, how can you appreciate highs, if you can’t contrast them with lows along the way?

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success,” famed TV host Ellen DeGeneres once said. Each failure is a step closer towards success, and without going through the wrongs, you can’t get to what’s right.

So next time you feel something has gone wrong, take a step back. What have you learnt from the experience? Did you make a mistake, or learn a different way of doing things? Could your failure help others?

Hat tip to Forbes for the collection of failure quotes.