Thoughts & Observations

What It Means to Fail

Some people get confused about what it means to fail.

The business gurus of the world talk about failure being a good thing. Seth Godin even tells a story about how he once told one of his employees that they weren’t failing enough, and that they needed to start failing significantly more within the next few weeks or else they would be out of a job.

But the failing that Seth and others are talking about isn’t the casting all judgment aside and making mindless decisions type of failing. It’s the failing associated with trying something new and taking risks.

Failing isn’t a synonym for being an idiot.

In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. Failing is what happens when you muster all the knowledge, information, wisdom and ideas you’ve got into creating or trying something new and it doesn’t happen to work.

Being an idiot on the other hand? That’s when you leave bits and pieces of those things out. Maybe you’ve got a big idea, but you don’t apply any wisdom or you forget your values or you stop being humble.

All of us do idiotic things once in a while. We just have to be careful not to turn it into a practice, letting ourselves off the hook by evoking the names of the business Gods who told us it was ok to fail. That’s not, in fact, what they meant.


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