This past week I have been attempting to better my understanding of my relationship with failure. It’s strained at the best of times, and generally a little complicated.
I’ve been reading, Black Box Thinking (by Matthew Syed), which is a phenomenal book – I’d highly recommend a read! And I’d like to share a few of his words on failure that have in particular resonated with me. Here are six simple observations, that I think we could all learn from.
One of the problems in our culture is that success is positioned as something that happens quickly. Reality television, for example, suggests or leads us to believe that success can happen in the time it takes to impress a whimsical judge or audience. It is about overnight stardom and instant gratification.
This is the paradox of success: it is built upon failure.
The problem is not just about the consequences of failure, it is also about our attitude towards failure.
Failure is rich in learning opportunities for a simple reason: in many of its guises, it represents a violation of expectation. It is showing us that the world is in some way different from the way we imagined it to be.
If we edit our failure, if we reframe our mistakes, we are effectively destroying one of the most precious learning opportunities that exists.
The desire for perfection rests upon two fallacies. The first resides in the miscalculation that you can create the optimal solution sitting in a bedroom or ivory tower and thinking things through rather than getting out into the real world and testing assumptions, thus finding their flaws… The second fallacy is the fear of failure… You spend so much time designing and strategising that you don’t even get a chance to fail, at least until it is too late… You are so worried about messing up that you never even get on the field of play.