Congratulations on Your Failure

On my desk I have a placard that says:

Failure is an opportunity to intelligently begin again

This is one of the principles I have built my career on. I’m certain that I have failed and lived tell about it many more times than I have celebrated sweet success.

First, it’s important to recognize that failure is okay as long as you learn something from it. Failing without learning is like paying for dinner at a fine restaurant and sending your plate back to the kitchen without eating. It’s expensive, and you miss out on the good stuff. The truth is that failing at anything can teach you lessons you just can’t get in any other way.

There is a mantra in start up companies to fail fast and fail often. This iterative idea is prevalent in business today. Agile methodology reinforces this concept and it has proven, that when applied correctly, it will get a business not only from point A to point B faster, but often point B is not the original point B envisioned, but an exponentially better one. Gradual iterations provide for more opportunities to fail and therefore more opportunities to learn, solve new problems, confirm or deny assumptions, and improve.

I have always encouraged my employees to try things and see if they work. I teach them to embrace failure and avoid paralysis by analysis.  They should not fear the unknown, but rather be excited to the possibilities that lie ahead. These concepts are not in our nature as human beings. We have primal instincts to survive and we are in conflict with this by embracing failure.

Learning from failure is such a powerful tool for us in IT. We have such a unique landscape of tools and technologies. We build and can rebuild using Agile principles and be more agile and swift than other industries. It is imperative we indeed fail, learn from failure and repeat until we get a desired outcome. I promise, if you focus on this moment in time, this single problem, and actually learn as you go, the end result will be better than you could have ever imagined in the first place.

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