Bask in the Failure

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.’ - You're great at pretending to be successful
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.

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12 thoughts on “Bask in the Failure

  1. I have failed in that roaring, meteor-impact fall from heaven kind of way. It is priceless and precious – a divine gift that you cannot receive vicariously through others or their stories.

    1. And yet we hide it, we run from it, we stuff our resumes and tweets and posts with success stories. Has there every been anyone who hasn’t failed Stan? We may not always have launching into space and doing victory laps around the moon success, but it’s the trying – our trying as you’re right, it’s what our own experiences teach us, that make the difference.

  2. Hi Davina,
    I’m slowly recovering from a failure with regards to my finances. This is another timely reminder for me to think positively about my experiences. It was quite hard at first to shift my thinking from failure mindset to just setbacks and lesson-learning mindset but practice really makes perfect. Now, it’s getting easier to think of mistakes as learning opportunities.
    The good thing is I’m becoming more tolerant of others’ mistakes as well. I tend to overreact especially with my kids but now I’m learning to be more accepting. I still have a looong way to go so a little reminder now and then helps a lot.
    Theresa Torres recently posted..Ebooks Explosion

    1. And see, we all struggle with money. I’ve learned to not waste resources, find more bang for the buck.. may not have that perspective without some struggled and failures. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. You ALWAYS make me laugh (insert pithy quote here)! LOL!!!

    I once had a friend say to me, “You’ve never failed have you?” Of course I have! Have I failed in that flame out, hit bottom, have nothing but the shirt on my back way? No. But I fail nearly every day. You don’t learn if you don’t fail. You’re not taking risks if you don’t fail. We need more failure.
    Gini Dietrich recently posted..Is Blogging Dead or Are Companies Not Trying Hard Enough?

    1. Well.. it’s the thing to do right, wrap up w/ profound quip from some clever long-departed figure? 😉

      It’s not just that we need more failure, we need to not panic, overreact, not judge and assume failure means we did something wrong. We need to not dismiss someone as a failure or less competent or unqualified based on so many of these silly, arbitrary measures we pay too much attention to. Mostly we need to stop this ridiculous obsession with perfection, with never making mistakes and hitting on all cylinders all the time w/ every blog, tweet, campaign, client; it’s b.s. I work my ass off to get things right the first time, but when I don’t – I work that much harder to do better. Because I learn from my failures. FWIW.

  4. My mistakes are mine. I own them. I’ve learned from them.

    I embrace them because in my pursuit of making a difference in the world through the entrepreneurial spirit within and a deep desire to be a better person, father and husband, I’ve learned more from my mistakes than anything else.

    I’m now 46 years old, more capable than I’ve ever been, and a million miles from being the person and success I desire to be.

    I don’t measure my success by how much money I have in the bank (although in my younger years I certainly did), but by how much positive impact I can have in the lives of my family and all those I have the opportunity to touch and influence everyday.

    Learn from your mistakes. Do the right things to correct them. And with the mindset above, there isn’t a day that goes by that you can’t positively impact the world around you.

    Lovely post from a lovely lady : )

    Thanks Davina!

    1. What wonderful comment Mark. What I was trying to say on Twitter w/ Neicole – I may not have the badges and trappings of success, I may struggle and ‘fail’ – and THAT is why you want me. Like you, i own my screwups and lapses in judgement. Let people like us put our life and work lessons to work for you. I may have already made some ‘mistakes’ you cannot afford to make.

      My bank account could stand some upward mobility, no question. But my success will come when I’ve got the ‘stuff’ and security I need along with the freedom of doing what I want to do, working up to my potential. That’d be good for me and others.

  5. This is so true, Davina. I agree with you: #sm and PR folks, especially, seem to have become unforgiving. We pounce on every mistake. As you say, nobody is perfect and no business is perfect. As long as mistakes are not a result of disrespect or disinterest, and they are recognized and handled appropriately, we should cut people and businesses some slack about them. Thanks for sharing!
    Neicole Crepeau recently posted..Where is my cut from Pinterest?

    1. I’m stuck on the mistakes that shouldn’t have been, when it’s that clear lack of interest, foresight. Even so, we learn from them.

      Something about the social pressures and transparency, combined with struggling economy Neicole .. I’ve realized too many companies limit themselves by fear of failure. They hire, recruit, market for only the ‘best’ – and cut themselves off to perhaps better options.

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