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Apr 6th, 2017 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The Failure Fetish

There is something curious going on in startup land: From learning to accept failure as part of the creative process we seem to have gone into overdrive and fetishize failure as something which is worthy of pursuit in and of itself. From FailCon to Fuckup Night — talking about failure seems to have become not only cool but also good business…

Here’s the thing with failure:

A — It sucks. I have yet to find someone who enjoys failing (and prefers it over succeeding).

B — You don’t learn all that much; and certainly not from the failures of others. There are a dozen ways you can solve a particular problem and a million ways how you can fail at doing so. Learning which one method didn’t work eliminates one out of 1,000,000 options. I’d rather take the shortcut and learn what worked.

C — It is deeply personal. Failure (as is success) is deeply tied into your personal circumstances, the environment you were in and a gazillion other factors. It is incredibly hard to generalize.

Rather than fixating on (particularly) the failure of others, I suggest you focus on learning what worked. Spend your energy on deeply understanding the underlying factors, the first principles which led to success and figure out how you can leverage these lessons. And take failure for what it is: A necessary evil. Don’t be afraid of failure but do your utmost best to minimize the impact of your failure (nothing good comes out of you driving your startup against the wall) and keep on doing the things that work!

Rather than “fail fast, fail forward” how about “figure out what works and keep doing that”?

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