A couple of events have made me think about how people perceive failure lately.
I don’t want to draw your attention to the individuals but the basic sentiment I am seeing a lot is that people in the public spotlight shouldn’t do something unless they are sure of success.
I’m worried about that. Personally I think everyone should be given the chance to try, fail and yes, maybe make a mess. We learn by doing. Sometimes we learn the hard way, but we still learn.
Many times our biggest lessons come from our biggest and most public failures. We all try stuff and crash and burn. It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t care, and not take notice of what others think, but I think that is unlikely. What we can do though is not let those factors hold us back.
Financial loss, or harm to individuals is one thing, but trying something that doesn’t work out and might be embarrassing we can get over. People will laugh, but ultimately go on to the next news. Our friends will still be our friends and if we have been nice folk in the past we can usually count on support from our customers and readers too.
I’ve made some mistakes, some big and some small. It’s not so long ago that my most public contribution as a CEO of a well thought of company was shutting it down and telling 30,000 customers their data was no longer going to be available. Not my finest hour. Out of the ashes of that though I learned a great deal, still hold most of the contacts made as good friends, and I am still here doing what I do relatively unscathed.
Failure is one of those charged words. Just thinking about it can fill you with fear. Better to try and fail though than never try at all.