We’ve become so afraid of ‘failure’ – the pressures of work, the lack of job security. And it seems every non-sweeping success is immediately dubbed #FAIL by pundits, armchair quarterbacks and assorted ne’er-do-wells.
Beware the hype
First of all, watch you don’t step in the b.s.
Talking about so-called scandals, Tyler and I agree that missteps are often publicly branded as scandals and failures when in reality, it’s us fueling the failure machine, adding fire to the flame.
Add ‘gate’ to the end of anything and Presto, instant “controversy.” Ratings sell. Scandals get links. Hype gets clicks.
Second, understand what really is a ‘failure.’
Example: McDonald’s. Even though 97% of tweets and chatter regarding McDonald’s recent Twitter campaign were positive, it was the less than 3% of negative tweets that got all the hype. It was dubbed failure by many when their only mistake was that they did an involvement campaign, without being ready for involvement.
FWIW I did a little backseat tweeting, questioning the expectation of ‘controlling’ such a message campaign. The lack of plan for the trolls, the negative; how hard would it have been to block them, tease back “ok, you’ve had your fun,” reclaim the conversation, show genuine engagement? Would it have made a difference, I still wonder aloud.
Mark W. Schaefer calls it the Vanilla Web, our negativity bias. In a world when one tweet can kill a career, everything has to be perfect, appeal to all while offending none, never straying into dark territory or taking a risk, being human.
Who the hell bats 1,000?
Just went to my first Braves game this season, so I must remind folks that while yes Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, he also struck out more than 3,000 times. And for those who don’t know baseball or never seen Bull Durham, a batting average of .300 – you successfully hit only 3 out of 10 tries – is considered outstanding.
As you look to hire new employees or outsource your small business PR, social media and marketing communications (Waves Hi!) let me tell you something, you want the ‘failures.’
Someone with an impeccable, safe resume or optimized LinkedIn profile may seem the ticket. The firm with pretty white papers and cases studies may seem the right option. Or perhaps the “Big Name” with the social badges, book deals and List status catches your eye.
Consider the road less traveled.
- Someone who’s failed – they know from getting back up off their ass, starting again.
- Someone who’s struggled – they know from obstacles and how to overcome them.
- Those who make mistakes and do right by them, they learn not to make them again – and possibly turn those ‘failures’ into opportunity while they’re at it.
- Someone who hasn’t had it easy knows from hard work. Much as I hate the ‘do more with less’ mentality, I also know how to get big results with small budgets.
- Someone who’s been unpopular doesn’t worry about kissing middle management’s ass. They know how to use their lack of cool – and get things done.
Take a Risk
We laud risk takers in the media, but so few of us really think along those lines. We praise the successful failures – the ‘once lived in car but now have business empire’ stories – but what about on their way up, or those who never quite get there?
It’s one of the reason I enjoy the TED series, that approach to education. Want more innovation, critical and creative thinking? Be more real, more human – and stop punishing ‘failure’ in school and at work.
Insert [pithy quote on how failure is key to success] here. Got a fave? Do share.