“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer”
Albert didn’t speak until four, nor read til he was seven.
Early failure didn’t stop him.
JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected by 12 publishers.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.
Fail. Fail. Fail. Yet they didn’t stop. They kept at it.
Many of us fear failure so greatly, that sometimes we don’t even try.
And that’s just crazy.
Glorious failures litter the history of food, science, business, art and literature. Inventions that would never have occurred. Diseases that would never have been cured. Failure is an experiment that hasn’t worked. But the process, the methods, the learning? They teach us something we didn’t know before.
Thomas Edison failed 1 000 times before making the light bulb.
Sir Alexander Fleming spoiled a bacteria sample and discovered penicillin.
As the bankrupt businessman and then successful Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford said,
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”
Failing is the most excellent way of finding out what doesn’t work. It’s a necessary step to success. It should be embraced and encouraged. Because breakthroughs, innovations, inventions - these come from people who are prepared and supported, to take risks.
It’s really hard to be right first time, every time. Especially if you’re pushing the envelope, or looking to do something new and different. So be brave and risk failure. Encourage others to try the unexpected. Join forces and experiment. Choose the course with the least predictable outcomes. Do something different and be challenged by the results.
It makes life so much more interesting.
Matt is Chief Doodler at Sketch Group. He has contributed to several books on visual thinking, most recently The World of Visual Facilitation.