I was recently reading a blog post by Lidiya K on the topic of failure. She was kind enough to like one of my posts and as I explored her writing, she sites one of my favorite Thomas Edison quotes, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that wont work.” In her post she samples many powerful ways that failure is in fact a positive.
In creating new digital interactions, campaigns, products and service you cant help but fail sometimes. I have failed many times in different ways and those times though often painful helped me to achieve the greatest areas of learnings in life. When I failed as a manager, I worked harder to be a better manager. When I failed at a pitch, I worked harder to win the next one. I’m far from perfect but for me at least, times of growth often come through lows not highs.
To add a slight web angle to this top it’s interesting to note that failure is almost objectively a good thing when you research it on the web.
1) The conversation around failure online is surrounded by success: I have done a social sentiment analysis on the word failure. The conversations online around failure are not conversations about defeat but conversations about progress. If you do a simple word cloud around the term, words that appear are words such as success, progress, learning.
2) Failure is a topic that people can relate to: If you do a google search trend analysis on the term failure vs. success. The topic is searched for almost 5 failures to 1 success. People are seeking out this information because they too are going through it. There is empathy on the topic and its a universal human truth that at some point you will fail. It’s relatable.
3) There is humor in it if you can open your eyes to find it: I once spoke to Ben Huh, the owner of fail blog about this topic. Why is that blog and that meme so popular I asked. Because everyone can relate. There is humor in the lows, and when you find that humor, that’s when you learn and grow. There is a reason that comedians often talk about when things go wrong. If they only gloated about success, there is less to relate to.
Don’t forget that the greatest successes were wrought with failures. Walt Disney’s patent for a theme park was rejected 302 times before acceptance. Steve Jobs was at one point fired from Apple, the company he built. Oprah was seen as unfit for TV. The chairman of Sony’s first endeavor was rice cookers that couldn’t cook rice. Do you remember Virgin credit cards?
In creative, innovation and design we need to use failure to our advantage. Learn from it and grow from it.