I’m Sorry, I Don’t Want To Fail.
(although I have many, many, many times)
“Fail fast” has become a rallying cry of tech. Investors preach it, successful entrepreneurs shout it from the rooftops and wear their failures like badges of honor. I say Fuck That. Fuck Failure. The value of failure for failure sake is a myth.
How could I spew this blasphemy? Am I a true entrepreneur?
I’ll answer your question with another question…
How many times have you heard the story of a heroic failure by someone who is, by most accounts, now succeeding?
Dozens? Hundreds? Yes. Me too! We all do it.
Now, how many times have you heard the tale of an epic failure by someone knee-deep in shit?
Right. So let’s think about this a bit differently…
History is written by winners. As we become more successful, we craft our epic saga on how we got to where we are. One of the most heroic deeds of great tale is a comeback — rising from the ashes of failure to find success. Hell, three of my favorite movies are Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo and Rounders (more on poker another day...) I have to admit, comebacks make for much better stories.
Surely, the stories you may read end with a great triumph. Investors [not ours!] love to push “fail-fast” as it’s critical to their success. Namely, needing 10x winners versus saving precious time helping the losers.
The _best_ stories always have failures. This is true. The question is: are these failures themselves the cause of this newfound success?
No. They are not.
Don’t get me wrong. Failure is a means to an end. That end, though, is learning and growing as a person.
What separates the winners who tell the tales of coming back from failure and those who consistently fail is winners eventually look inward and relentlessly seek self-improvement. THAT is leadership. THAT is noteworthy.
The common thread among the successes you read isn’t failure itself — its the fact they failed and course corrected — often swiftly (while humbly blaming themselves)…
The next time you celebrate someone’s failure remember that this person has already 100% owned their failure while relentlessly self-improving. This self-improvement is what separates the winners and the habitual failures. Maybe its time to start celebrating that.