Why It Is Great To Fail
Think of that person you know who has done everything right, tasted success after success, learnt a plethora of valuable lessons, and is satisfied with where they are today. Having trouble thinking of who fits the bill? Probably. More likely, if you do indeed know someone who has “done everything right”, they are currently sitting in the cul-de-sac of mediocrity, wondering why they have not witnessed anything innovative or exciting for quite some time!
Now, think of that person who chases their ideas to the nth degree, involves those around them in their plans before really knowing what they entail, and is creating a legacy of spectacular successes and lengthy footnotes of rather cringe-worthy failures. That person is a real innovator. That person changes the world. That person someone who can run with their ideas without knowing for sure if they will work out or not, but know that it is worth the effort to discover the outcome. That brave (and perhaps, in retrospect, occasionally foolish) person knows that failure is not the worst thing that can happen. They know, in fact, that failure with one idea can be the secret ingredient necessary to stir up another, more incredible one.
Famously, Thomas Edison, found 10,000 ways one could not make a lightbulb before he discovered one wonderful way in which one could. By viewing his multiple failures as lessons, he was able to appreciate the vital information contained in each attempt to further inform his process of discovery.
Henry Ford’s path to success was not a smooth one. The car manufacturer lost the faith of not one, but two sets of backers while trying to perfect his design of a working automobile. When it was difficult to get the finances to build prototypes based on further refined ideas, he decided to form his own type of business model as well, one in which creativity was kept separate from finance.
The result of this experiment was the assembly line, where Ford himself could control elements of design closely, and was given final say over what was produced. Under these conditions, the history (and fortune) making Model A was born.
Michael Jordan may not have been sure of his future as one of the best basketball players of all time when he got cut from his high school team. However, it did not stop him from practising his skills and building his strength, so strong was his passion for the game, and his desire to be the best he could be.
While it would be easier on our egos if we never fail, eventual success is often tied to a history of not being perfect, yet. We can learn a great deal from our failures, and our success can truly shine with the hard-won knowledge we gain along the way.