Fail fast. Fail often.
They are words that (at least to) hang up in many startup offices. It's the name of a book. When startup culture really started to take off when I started working, failing fast was something to be lauded.
It should have been too. For a long time, failure was something to fear. The fear of failure was something that held a lot of people back from trying something new, following their dreams and reaching their full potential. I think this shift applauding failure has been a great transition.
Culturally, we've really gone out of our way to remove the stigma associated with failure. We share stories of how people like Jack Ma failed to get jobs over and over but eventually became a billionaire. Same for the founder of WhatsApp, who failed at getting a job at Facebook but eventually sold his company to Facebook for $19 billion. Abraham Lincoln, "The Great Emancipator," had a huge laundry list of failures before carving himself into US history.
We learn a lot from failure. We have the opportunity to learn from others' failures so that we don't make those same mistakes. However, have we gone too far trying to curb the fear of failure by over-celebrating failure? Have we over-hyped it?
Failing Itself Isn't Cool
I recently read an article in Huffington Post about how failure isn't cool. It made me rethink the concept (and write this post). It talks about examples of companies that had failed but celebrated that failure. I think it probably skewed more pessimistic in tone than I agreed with but brought up a good point in my mind.
How do we balance avoiding a fear of failure against driving for success?
Have we lauded failure so much that we almost feel like failures if we don't fail? Have we glorified it too much?
Failing in itself isn't cool. What you learn and how you bounce back from that failure - what you do with that failure - that's cool.
For myself, I'm finding that I don't want to be scared of failure or crack when things don't go as I hoped. My main goal is to make calculated risks and avoid making the same failures and mistakes more than once. Each risk is a new opportunity to learn. But all risks, IMO, should always be strategic.
What do you think? Has internet culture over-glorified failure?
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