I have not failed. I've just found 1000 ways that don't work. - Thomas A Edison
I am a master of mistake making. What happens when you take a 23 year old, white skinned, blond girl out of a liberal arts college in Vermont and plop her down in the jungle on the Mexican Pacific? A very lost gringa! I gripped my freshly printed business plan in my sweaty hand and proceeded to make every mistake you can image. Yikes, I certainly have a few memories of blood, sweat and moats of tears that I cried into the sand. Though I was living in paradise chasing my dream those first few years were rough.
Perhaps the roughest part was that every time I made a mistake I beat myself up! I've since learned that mistake making never ends, it’s how you respond to and approach mistake making that can make all the difference. Where I used to feel like a failure, I now think of each mistake as a stepping stone on my journey. “Replace the word failure with human. Instead of thinking or saying, “I’m a failure,” say, “I’m a human.”” says simplicity specialist Courtney Carver.
Indeed! We’re all wonderfully human.
Rewiring “Failure” (excerpt from my book The Wildpreneurs)
Why is it that failure often comes with a negative connotation, often perceived as shameful? There is no failure in the natural world—animals don’t grapple with self-consciousness, there is only persistence, adaptation, patience and innovation. Why are we humans so worried about failure?
I’ve found it helpful to re-wire my thinking around failure as artful mistake making: a positive force, a portal to success. Astro Teller—expert in intelligence technology—agrees. He advises us to run at all the hardest parts of the problem first—to chase after failure, instead of fear it. He explains that, “Discovering a major flaw in a project doesn’t always mean that it ends the projects, sometimes it actually gets us onto a more productive path.”
Wildly successful entrepreneur Sophie Amoruso—author of the bestselling book #GirlBoss and founder of Nasty Gal, an online vintage clothing boutique that rebounded from bankruptcy—says failure is our own invention. She challenges us to, “dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility.” From the inception of her business she has viewed it as a work in progress. “I constantly tweak and move on, peeling back layers of the onion as new ones arrive.”
If you beat yourself up every time you make a mistake I highly recommend rethinking this approach. Failure not only makes us stronger, it also clears the way for success! Need more support around artful mistake making? Check out this thought provoking Ted Talk: "Failure is an Option.”
So, my fellow wildpreneur, go out there, explore and see where artful mistake making takes you!