Are you capable of failing?

failure is okay

A long time ago I saw Micah Baldwin at the SXSW V2V do a presentation on happiness. One thing Micah talks about is failing. Can you be good at failing? Are you capable of failing, gracefully or not. Is it okay to fail?

Did you know that Thomas Edison failed over thousands of times before finally getting a lightbulb to work correctly? He’s actually quoted as saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That’s a graceful failure.

I used to ask myself, “can I succeed without failure?” They say the biggest successes come from some of the worst failures. But do you have to fail? Can you be good at failing to actually be able to say you succeed in failing? Ahhh, it makes my head hurt.

I thought when SignMyPad came out that my ideas were the golden eggs. I thought that my next product, BlackBook was going to be a hit. It was an unmitigated disaster. I spent over $80,000 on development and never sold a single copy. Had I missed my opportunity? Had I not marketed it correctly? Had I made it too complex? The answers don’t matter – I failed. I failed so bad that I actually started to believe that I, myself, was a failure. I really did take it to heart. I mean I lost so much money how could I not? I swore to myself I would never fail again. That was a mistake.

After the first ACEs Conference, I lost $20,000. Again I thought my idea was going to be a golden egg. Apple consultants from around the globe would attend my very sought after conference. Little did I know that I would lose. The conference itself was amazing, but I was too wrapped up in the lost of money. I felt like I made another mistake, and I failed like I failed again. This time it was worse, as I had a newborn at home to take care of. Now I was failing him as well. On the other side of that coin, the second ACEs Conference made a profit. Albeit not $20,000 – but some profit.

But here I am, for all to see. I haven’t actually failed in life. I’ve only made a few mistakes. Mistakes that were costly no doubt, but that’s all they were – MISTAKES. Micah talks about being good at failing. Being able to recognize the failure so you can work on it and learn from it.

In Batman Begins, I know I can’t believe I’m quoting this movie, Bruce Wayne falls down a hole. His father asks him “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” While I’m still ashamed for using a quote from that movie, it’s rings true to failing as well.

Failing is a natural part of growing. Failing isn’t something to be ashamed of. Embrace your failures as successes. You succeeded in learning what not to do.

Now go out there and fail!

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