They know how to fail.
They know how to put everything they have into a product or service, then watch it barely spark before it fizzles and dies.
They know how to try again.
That says ‘Fail Harder.’
This wall is found in the Wieden + Kennedy office in Portland, Oregon, and took over 100,000 pushpins and hundreds of hours to complete. The point—to remind the ad agency of the importance of failing during the creative process.
Failure—it’s like that toolbox of a guy you made out with in college. The one who called everybody ‘dog’ and whose greatest accomplishment was drinking for 24 straight hours without puking.
You don’t talk about it.
But here’s why you should talk about it: failing is simply success in progress.
Failing is starting your business, putting some of your newfound research and business smarts to good use, and trying something only to find out that meh, didn’t work for you—time to try (and possibly fail) again. The more you fail, the closer you get to figuring out what you really want and need out of your business.
That’s the new photo on my homepage. The chair is cool, right? I adore it.
I also made it.
I didn’t build it but, this chair was a boring brown, scratched, $5 find at Goodwill, and one of the first pieces I refurbished for my furniture restoration business in early 2011. A business that bombed.
I didn’t know anything about furniture. All I knew was that I wanted a business and I was good at making furniture beautiful again. I liked playing with colors and fabrics and thinking up crazy names and personalities for my pieces. (That chair was ‘Gritty Gritty Bang Bang’.)
But, after $3,000 and ridiculous hours sanding and scraping, I realized that I didn’t have the resources to make that business work. And worst of all, I didn’t like the process of refurbishing furniture enough to produce what I needed to make a profit. It didn’t excite me, which made me suck at selling it. The only thing I liked was writing the blog.
So I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself and stopped altogether (followed by a few pity parties, attendance: 1).
Sure, it was a failure, but I went for it. I tried. And being in that wrong business pointed me to the exact right business I should be in (writing!), as well as what to do differently when I tried it again.
Failures are a chance to learn and a reason to keep going until you freaking nail it. How have your failures helped you?