Failing

  • 952
  • 13

When I’m reminded of the demand for creatives, my mind wanders to the cause.

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” - Pablo Picaso

This quote has been extrapolated in every possible dimension for many different theories.
Sir Ken Robinson speaks about it in his seminal talk on how schools kill creativity. He briefly mentions that children have a great capacity for innovation, and that as we get older, we’re taught that mistakes are the worst thing in the world. It’s easy to see that the greatest innovators have a healthy respect for failure.

I’ve always subscribed to the principal of fail fast and fail often. And by always, I mean since just over a year ago. Nathan from Inspire9 had just taken us under his wing on a few projects, and mentioned this gem during a brain-storming session.  My understanding is that this ethos holds a premium on failing early and learning something, so that improvements can be made moving forward. While this sounds obvious, try and think of a time during your schooling or career when you were encouraged to fail.

This was raised in the context of whether to persue a particular feature for a web app, but it resonated with me in a much broader sense; applicable to any area in life.

Some failures can be expensive or emotionally draining. Others can make you cringe late at night in bed when you’re trying to sleep. While the cost may vary in both measure and degree, the resultant is always earned knowledge. A good ol fashioned fuck-up can be character building or soul destroying, depending on how you face up to it. Old habits die hard, and I’m not expecting anyone reading this to be rid themselves of a worthy late night cringe, but they say your windscreen is bigger than your rear-view mirror. This whole school of thought is a glass-half-full perspective on fucking up. While conceptually we try and mark failures in the red column, they are never a loss.

As empathetic creatures, it’s an instinct to try and learn lessons vicariously through the mistakes (and successes) of others. This can be effective on occasion, but sometimes you need to make mistakes first hand. I certainly hope that in the future, this movement continues to gain momentum and the stigma towards failing can find itself a home in the history books.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721976421 Cam Hogben

    They sure didn’t teach us much about failure at our High School that’s for sure. Since finishing, I’ve failed in so many ways with many harsh short/long term consequences and currently continue to do so. This article helps me keep those failures in perspective. I almost (almost), consider myself fortunate to have experienced them.

    Nice post champ, keep it up.

    • http://www.wernah.com/ Daniel Wearne

      Thanks for reading Cam! I was always quick to beat myself up over stuff that didn’t pan out as I wanted it to. This approach was a breath of fresh air :)

  • Sars

    Well said. I’ve worked my way from the bottom up in life, hence am a big believer in 2 things;
    1. credit due where credit deserved
    2. Always admit to your mistakes.
    I have learnt more from my mistakes in life, personally and work wise, than my successes.
    Plus if you make enough “fails”, it helps you to better damage control, think outside the square, and make better informed decisions ongoing.

    That’s my 2 bob anyway!

  • Grant

    .. if failure don’t hurt, then failure won’t work

  • http://twitter.com/kinnth Tom Kinniburgh

    The problem is the winners write the history books.