Don’t Fail Stupidly

We learned to ride bikes by failing smartly

I encourage entrepreneurs, business owners and knowledge workers to embrace failure. Failure is not the goal. It is part of the process of learning and getting to the ultimate goal we set. The problem is that there is rarely a straight path, especially if we are innovating with layers of complexity.

Embracing failure should not be a mantra we hold onto blindly. It is just a start. It helps us to get comfortable unlearning much of what institutional education has ingrained in us. Many of us are taught that failure is a bad thing, when in reality, it is learning.

Now if you quit when you fail, then you have failed. The goal cannot be met. But, if you can focus on the learning part of failure, then you will find progress towards what you are seeking to achieve.

Perhaps you are seeking to see if a new product or service will be accepted by a market. The first customers you have will help you refine what you offer. Go in knowing that you are prototyping. As you get feedback, criticism or even rejection, ask logical questions:

  • Was the concept flawed altogether or just a few parts of it?
  • Was the type of customer a miss? Would another type of customer love it?
  • If I changed one or two things, how would it impact the perception or experience?

If you can dialogue with another person engaged in the process, you can unveil the answers you need to make a version 2, 3 and so on. The hard part is persevering with the work and emotionally.

Failing stupidly is the opposite. Your emotions and ego are where you place the success or failures of trying. It is an ignorant approach devoid of opportunity because there is no learning or iteration.

No, not you. You commit to learning, growing and pursuing what you believe is your dream. Fail smartly. Expect it, especially in today’s world. The good news is that the feedback loops are quick and you can speed up the learning cycles.

How are you handling failure?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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