Millennial Leadership Series Lesson 2: Should I Really “Fail Fast, Fail Often?”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

The first question we want you to ask yourself as we talk about failure is, “Are you risk adverse?”

If the answer to this question is no, which means you like taking risks, you have a better understanding of the benefits of trying new things, sometimes you fail and sometimes you don’t, but is there a time to be more cautious? Are you completely ignoring certain precautions in the name of “risk-tasking”. What is the balance that is needed between risk-taking and caution?

If the answer to this question is yes, it might be a good to take a moment and ask yourself why you are scared to take risks. Are you paralyzed by the fear of failure to the point it limits creativity and inspiration? There can be constructive lessons to learn from failure and trying to avoid it might cause more harm than good.

This idea of failure came to mind, because Samsung is marching towards the launch of the Galaxy S8 , and putting the failures of the Note 7 behind them. Samsung is a large company, this “failure” wouldn’t have really damaged their brand and reputation permanently. However, if you read about Samsung’s handling of the situation with the Note 7, they took a very long time to admit failure and pull their product from the market. In fact, they really did not admit defeat until wireless phone companies such as Verizon made the decision to stop selling the Note. Because, you know, blowing up is bad. Here at Silicon Jungle Labs, it made us wonder if they were afraid to admit failure even though they knew they hadn’t’ fixed the problem and what should we do in the same circumstance.

When should we admit failure and when do we move on…“Fail fast, Fail often?”…. maybe?

A lot of successful entrepreneurs talk about failure as if they needed it, but it’s often in hindsight for failed projects or products that we may never know about. Over the last couple of years, many entrepreneurs have been debunking this focus on failure, and that many successful people can say those things post success such as Richard Branson:

“Pretending to embrace failure when you don’t is disingenuous and potentially dangerous. Branson can get away with it now that he’s a spectacular success, but those newer to the game can’t afford to and shouldn’t pretend to.” (source)

To some extent, we agree! No one can afford to fail. Point Blank Period. BUT if you do fail, how you handle it and move forward does matter, so when people say fail fast, that is important. It’s important to hit the ground sooner than later. If we prolong the fall, we delay hitting the ground and figuring out why the heck we are falling in the first place. But the idea that we must fail often, should be further explained. If you are failing often, it must be in different areas. You cannot fail often in the same area. That is insanity. “Fail fast. Fail in Different Ways!” Doesn’t sound as catchy does it? But it makes sense for us.

We think the one thing is for sure, as entrepreneurs, is that you have to work hard. In the midst of working hard, you will run into failure. Don’t let it knock you out when it hits. As a leader, how you handle your failure is important to your longevity to lead. You need to fail to learn (or build) your tenacity and resilience levels, because if you don’t have those at potent levels, you will not be able to hold it together at different times over the course of your business, life, or whatever it may be. How you handle failure will reflect in those around you and especially the people who consider you a leader.

Stop and think about a time you failed. What did you learn from it?

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