When I first saw the term Successful Failure, I felt really uncomfortable. After some reflection and asking others how it made them feel, I was able to digest it when it became clear that we have been conditioned to think of “Failure” as a negative connotation. We have also been taught to identify with a “Success,” but not with a “Failure.” This makes it seem that failure should not be an option, but there is no success without failure. Think about when we first enter the world; we have to crawl for a while, then attempt to take that first step, fall, get back up and keep trying (aka practicing). Before you know it… you are walking. Of course, it isn’t pretty at first, and some might even laugh at you, but if you keep at it eventually you hone your craft and can walk and talk like a professional baby.
Obviously, we all know that we had to crawl before we could walk, but when it comes to a new endeavor we place unrealistically high demands on ourselves to get it perfect right out of the gate. How can this be possible if we are trying to master a new skill or navigate unfamiliar territory?
Most of us are harder on ourselves than others are, but don’t realize that this can thwart the creativity process and produce undue stress. The faster we can make mistakes and learn from them, the faster we can focus on what really matters to find success. We also have to remember to celebrate the small learning opportunities (aka mistakes), and not beat ourselves up as these mistakes will move us closer to our success. Think about the last victory you earned for yourself. Wasn’t that a time where you struggled (a lot!) and had to reach down deep inside to push through to the other side? For a moment, remember how you felt with your last win, no matter how big or small.
I’d like to point out that the title of this blog was inspired by The Platformit Show (Season 2 Episode 3) which covered how failure creates success. I love what the Founder, Daniel Martinez, says about this topic:
“Those with entrepreneurial ambitions often focus on the success at the end of a long journey. But it’s the journey where most of one’s attention should go. Our society has always celebrated business leaders who have taken risks to amass their wealth and influence. Many of the household names we know today had ideas that seemed outlandish and the odds of profitability seemed insurmountable. But when determined individuals push through the conventional wisdom they can come out of the tribulations as ‘Successful Failures.’”
I hope this blog inspires you to risk and stretch out of your comfort zone towards success by ending with this background and perspective from Thomas Edison:
His teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Source.