Get Really Good At Failing

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Success is 99% Failure by Soichira HondaThe first step to making an impact is to start something.

The second, third, and fourth steps are usually the same: Start something, again. Rarely will your first attempt work, but I assure you, it’s better than nothing. In fact, the most successful people have failed multiple times – and this exactly why they eventually succeed!

It’s fine to accept failure, as long as you don’t settle for it. In fact, one of the top business books by Seth Godin motivates you to quit in the face of failure. Quitting is fine, and failure is even better, as long as you learn from it.

The key to success is learning how to fail. So based on our own experiences at MovingWorlds and our previous ventures in the start-up and social enterprise spaces, here are 4 tips to help you fail better so that you can succeed, faster.

1. Be a Martyr

If you are going to fail at something, fail at something worth failing for. Failing at starting a new coffee shop is boring because that has been done before. Failing at trying to revolutionize a category still leads to exciting development and inventions. The Segway might be an epic failure as a business, but its brilliant gyroscope technology has empowered people with disabilities to move about more freely and efficiently.

2. Aim High, Fall Farther

The greatest tragedy in life has nothing to do with not achieving your goals, it’s never setting goals in the first place. Steve Jobs said his goal was to “put a ding in the universe”. Google as a company is working on “organizing all the world’s information”. Will Google succeed? Did Steve Jobs? Regardless of the final result, they have inspired and empowered millions.

3.  Fail Inspirational-ly

Fail in such a way that inspires others to act. Technically, Terry Fox failed to run across Canada from coast to coast to raise money to fight cancer. His “Marathon of Hope” goal of running a marathon a day, everyday, until he ran the ~5,000 miles across Canada was laughed at, especially since he only had one real leg (he lost the other to cancer). Terry Fox collapsed with just over 1,000 miles to go because of tumors in his chest. His failure inspired the Terry Fox foundation was has gone on to raise  over $550 million dollars. Do you feel like crying? Watch this video:

4. Learn From Your Mistakes

People don’t laugh at failure, they cheer for it. So don’t be embarrassed or sad if you fail, embrace it, learn from it, and move on! Need help learning from your mistakes? Check out these tips from Scott Berkun’s blog:

The learning from mistakes checklist

  • Accepting responsibility makes learning possible.
  • Don’t equate making mistakes with being a mistake.
  • You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.
  • Growth starts when you can see room for improvement.
  • Work to understand why it happened and what the factors were.
  • What information could have avoided the mistake?
  • What small mistakes, in sequence, contributed to the bigger mistake?
  • Are there alternatives you should have considered but did not?
  • What kinds of changes are required to avoid making this mistake again?What kinds of change are difficult for you?
  • How do you think your behavior should/would change in you were in a similar situation again?
  • Work to understand the mistake until you can make fun of it (or not want to kill others that make fun).
  • Don’t over-compensate: the next situation won’t be the same as the last.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

- John F. Kennedy

What other tips do you have to get good at failing?

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