The 7 Types Of Failure You Can Avoid (Because Failing Sucks)

Seriously, there’s no need

Failure, it has arrived. Smug TED talkers are getting a standing ovation for sharing how they blew a few of the family jewels on a startup to get millennials into golf. And then there’s FailCon, an actual festival in San Francisco dedicated to terrible ideas which somehow got funded. Yes, failure has become the go-to word for innovation and success in the digital world. The trouble is, failure ISN’T a good thing.

In the real world, failure hurts. A lot. Whether it’s your boss telling you that yes, they actually did want you to stick to the brief or that excruciatingly misjudged annual report delivered in rap lyrics at the staff meeting, failure can set you back and even get you fired. Of course, we shouldn’t all be drones driven by a sense of duty but failure isn’t something to strive for, especially when it’s based on a seriously-I-know-best attitude.

From answering ‘why do you want this job’ with ‘I need a new pair of shoes’ to losing $$$$ on a blood-thirsty AI sex robot prototype, we’ve all committed heinous errors. Luckily we’re here to show you how to learn from the mistakes that other people make every day, so you really, really don’t have to.

Who among us has not uttered these fatal words just before a crucial interview, meeting or court battle? There’s no need to read everything from a cue card but an ill-judged improvisation usually ends in both disaster and embarrassment. You might be a cheeky chappy who can blag free coconut flat whites from a cute barista but please, don’t try to wing your way through an important pitch.

Taking the initiative is a wonderful thing. We all thrive on new ideas, get those creative juices flowing! (Urgh). But first, set the parameters. By creating ‘sandbox covenants’ you can make risk-taking more palatable to your boss, clearly defining what risks and failures are acceptable. And by agreeing upon consequences — both for you and the company — you’re less likely to misjudge the risks and get burned. As literally everyone’s mother has said at some point — if you can’t do it properly, don’t do it at all.

Seduced by tales of increased productivity and make-it-rain cash cows, some organisations encourage their stooges to come up with as many innovative ideas as possible. The trouble is, execs rarely provide parameters on how to judge ideas or the resources to bring them to life. Inevitably this results in frustration and a spectacularly cynical workforce. If you’re Ms. Ideas, make sure you find out exactly what problem you’re supposed to be solving or just go ahead and spend Innovation Hour doodling Ryan Gosling in drag.

From Edison’s electric pen that took five strong men to lift to a $400 WiFi-enabled juicer which basically squeezes bags of juice, pointlessness is often the mother of invention. The good news is enough people have spent their lives inventing something with no commercial value so you don’t have it to do too. Do your market research and don’t get swayed by the dollar signs appearing in your boss’s eyes.

Losing your company A LOT of money doesn’t just feel bad, it’s a pretty bona fide failure. Are you taking a risk? Check the market. Exactly how much money is in that collateral damage pot? Can your data be trusted? Are you putting all your cojones in one basket? Check, check and check again to avoid the mother of all car crashes.

Procrastination and failure go together like Bey and bodysuits. You know that colleague who is constantly flustered while simultaneously shopping online for pepper grinders? Let’s call her Britney. Don’t be Britney. If you can resist the siren calls of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, there will be more time for plotting your eventual overthrow of the company/government/fully automated luxury communist space utopia.

You’ve got a great idea, you’ve got your peers on board, you’re a rebel with a cause and you’re about to transform the company you work for/own/co-parent. So why did you abandon everything when the going got tough? Take your cue from a long line of quitters and persevere. It might just be your opportunity to rise to the top like a smug layer of cream.

Of course, you can never entirely avoid failure. It’s an unfortunate and sometimes exhilarating part of being a human being and there’s no need to punish yourself if you slip up. Just pick yourself up, dust off your bruised ego and for goodness sake, don’t make the same mistake twice.

Want to embrace failure and celebrate success with our awesome Amsterdam team? Take a look here to see where you could fit in.