Failure is a learning opportunity

I spend a lot of time in startups, and most startups fail. Those that live more standard and stable careers might not see it, but failure isn’t a negative to entrepreneurs, it’s simply another learning opportunity. If you only do what is safe and what you know, you can never grow or learn. The only people that change the world, are those that creatively think and try things outside the box. It is silly to think when you try something — anything, for the first time, that you will achieve 100% success. Building the first airplane? Creating the first social network? Making a new recipe? All of these take several failures to succeed. Even today, you can still try something completely new, and blow everything we know about the previous iterations out of the water.

Instead, you want to fail fast, and fail often. Learn with each iteration, and just make sure you’re not repeating the same mistakes, repeating the same failure is an issue. In startup terms, with each failure you want to pivot — not necessarily start over, just change the things you know went wrong and try again. This has the benefit of verifying it failed why you believe it did, but also gives you another chance at success. And I don’t look at success as financial success, success should be defined by you.

A great example of alternatives to financial success is Mitch Altman who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at a hackerspace in Tokyo. He has left a couple of addictions behind to live a frugal life travelling the world, and chasing his happiness — he teaches people of all ages the basics of true hacking (not cracking into remote computers, but thinking of alternate ways of using and building things), such as soldering and microcontrollers. In the following video, you can hear Mitch talk about failure.

So the next time someone tries to console you for failing, tell them thank you for supporting your learning! I hope to have the chance to fail on something with you in the future!