The Importance of Failure
Failure is a sign of weakness. An admission that you don’t have what it takes. A revelation to the rest of the world that you’re no good. Right?
“The Importance of Failure” started off as a message to a few guys I know who have each recently suffered the loss of their marketing services businesses, due to circumstances mostly out of their control.
(note: “guys” plural, “businesses” plural… sign of a changing, consolidating industry… different blog post!)…
…Then it became a sort of ‘note to self’.
Either way, it’s an important issue and one that us Brits (especially) need to re-address. Failure is an integral part of success. We need to redefine what it means to fail and celebrate the guys and gals who are brave enough to put themselves in the firing line to achieve their goals.
Failure is shaming. It feels like the opposite of success. It removes your sense of personal power and reveals your true, pathetic self to the world… Right? You are shamed. You are “a failure”. You can no longer project confidence and will never again succeed…
Of course, none of those things are true, but it doesn’t stop you feeling them sometimes, does it? It is a painful experience, and the more public your failure, the more painful it can feel. It’s something that most people, without hesitation, would choose to avoid at all costs.
But here’s the rub…
If you choose to avoid failure; if you are too scared of the pain and shame and ridicule to risk it happening, YOU WILL FAIL TO SUCCEED. Your fear of failure and your avoidance of it, at all costs, becomes the very reason why you do.
If you have ever tried to become successful at anything, you will be familiar with failure. You cannot succeed to master something without at first failing… a lot. The very act of failure is required in order to succeed. If you want to learn a new sport, or learn to paint, or juggle, or play an instrument, or become a better writer, a physician, an entrepreneur… Whatever it is, you need to get comfortable with failing.
– Henry Ford
It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but there it is. Whatever success looks like to you, it is through the fearless embrace of failure – the willingness to stick your neck out and get shot down for the privilege; to get in the ring and take a beating; to face ridicule and embarrassment and not give a damn – that you stand any chance of success.
Failure is your friend, for you cannot succeed without enduring some knock backs along the way. The two come as a package. Recognise failure for what it is; battle scars to be proud of, on the way to achieving your goals.
My own failures remind me that I am not afraid to stick my neck out and try. I am prepared to take a beating. I want to better myself and I am prepared to take the knocks along the way in order to reach my goals. And with each failure, I learn, I grow and I get ever closure to achieving my goals.
Watch this great (admittedly rather old) Nike ad featuring Michael Jordan. It sums it all up perfectly.
– Michael Jordan, Professional Athlete (dubbed “the greatest basketball player of all time”
Learn from the experiences of others
If you’ve recently failed at something and need a little more encouragement to get back in the ring, take solace in the experiences of others and remember to never give up:
- Henry Ford went bust 5 TIMES before founding the Ford Motor Company
- Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first business, Traf-O-Data, was a flop
- Richard Branson has “lost count” of the Virgin companies that have gone bust
- Thomas Edison documented 1000 failed attempts to invent the lightbulb
- Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school – three times
- Donald Trump’s failures (and bankruptcies) are plentiful
- Winston Churchill was defeated at every election to public office before becoming PM
- JK Rowling was severely depressed, penniless and surviving on benefits before becoming one of the richest women in the world
The message is clear. Embrace failure and never give up.
Oh, and one last thing…
Surround yourself with positive people. Embrace positivity and accept encouragement wherever you find it. Ignore the naysayers and cut out the negative people in your life, whoever they are. They contribute nothing. By way of example, Charles Darwin’s father told him he would amount to nothing and would be a disgrace to him and his family. CHARLES. DARWIN.
Are you ready to fail?
Is this your first time here? If so, thanks for stopping by! If you’re looking for my Tumblr blog, you can find that here. I’m a Digital Strategist, entrepreneur and Head of Digital Business at Advertising M&A, the specialist Mergers and Acquisitions consultancy exclusively for the advertising, digital, media and marketing services sectors. I am also the Founder and Editor-in-chief at advertising industry blog Inside MarComs, featuring Q&As with brilliant people in advertising and marketing, as well as Founder and Principal of Rick Palmer Consulting, offering my personal expertise to private clients. You can find out more about me by reading my biog or connecting with me on LinkedIn.