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Creativity tip - Fail to succeed

>> 26 September 2010

Have you ever failed in your life?
A project. A marriage. A test.

How did that feel?

Were you mad? Sad?
Did you feel shame?
Did you feel incompetent?
Did you give up?

From when we are little, we are taught that making mistakes is bad. Our entire school system is built on making as few mistakes as possible and on the fact that there is only one correct answer.

No wonder that we are averse to failure
No wonder we get laughed at or fired when we fail.

But failure is inevitable.
There is no learning without failure.

Or as Dr Linus Pauling put it “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away”. 

And even Thomas Edison said "I have not failed. I have merely found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Here are a few examples:
  • James Dyson (yes, of THE Dyson) says in a Fastcompay interview “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”
  • Charles Goodyear (whether he admits it or not) discovered vulcanized rubber by making a sloppy mistake.
  • Atlanta pharmacist, John Pemberton discovered coke while trying to prepare a medicine to cure headaches.
  • In 1928 Scientist Alexander Fleming decided to go on a vacation without cleaning his workstation. Guess what he discovered?


So go out and FAIL:
  1. Change the way you look at failure and success.
  2. Look at your failures as stepping stones, learn from them an move up.
  3. Celebrate your failures. For what they teach you. Laugh about them.
  4. Purposefully increase your failures. The more bad ideas, the more chance of a good one.
  5. Fail early: ask people for all the negative of the idea/the project at an early stage.
  6. Dare! Go ahead and ship it. See what happens.
While you're reading this, I am running my first ever half marathon.
I'm shipping.
Let's see if I succeed :-)


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