Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reinvent Yourself: Fail (6/7)

I must start this post by apologizing for the abrupt silence. I have been quite busy and have not had time to write. I am sorry.


The story of Edison’s attempt to find a suitable filament for the incandescent lamp is widely known. After trying hundreds of elements with no real success, a reporter from the New York Times asked if he had failed. His response, paraphrased as follows, was classic: “I have not failed 700 times. I have only found 700 ways NOT to build a light-bulb”.

That response is very instructive of the right perspective to take when we do not get expected results – a situation also known as failure. We do not give up and stop trying – we simply try differently!

Seth says, “A key part of doing is the ability to fail. The order of the world today demands that we have the ability to fail, often and with grace – and in public!”

If you had given up on your attempts to write the alphabet in Kindergarten because you tried and failed so many times, you would not write so well today – never mind your ugly handwriting. (Yes, the only people I know who have fine handwritings are my not-so-humble self and Durodola Ibidun).

Is there anything you do very well today? Chances are you failed repeatedly on your quest to becoming good at it. Driving, playing the guitar, making handbags, sewing clothes and everything except innate talents? We ‘failed’ at these things before, so why are we still afraid?

I have a simple theory. Failure is embarrassing! When we fail, particularly in public, people laugh at us. When they laugh at us, we feel bad. Because we do not want to feel bad, we don’t want to fail; because we don’t want to fail, we don’t try. So we don’t ask that girl out, we talk about the weather rather than sell our idea to a potential sponsor…etc.

We must remember: we have not failed when we learn from our attempts and do things differently on the next pass. Do not let the fear of failure hold you back. Create art, and ship it!

Challenge the lizard!

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