Philosophy Tuesday

There’s a big… not exactly sure what to call it, perhaps movement, perhaps idea, perhaps something else, but a big whatever over the past decade about “embracing failure.”  That is, being willing to fail and fail and even fail again to get somewhere and to create something awesome.  It’s not new, of course – IDEO (the famous industrial design company) had their own version of it several decades ago that went: “Fail often to succeed early.”

And, for certain, developing an empowering context around failure, being resilient, and adopting a growth mindset are all very powerful things.  Highly encouraged!

But there’s another side to this, especially in the context this new-found expression of Failure Embracement™ that is espoused within the business or start-up or millionaire or celebrity circles.  Where their success, sold as being born of perseverance in the face of failure, is not so much celebrated as it is held aloft as a measure of superiority and lorded over those who “played it safe.” (And, therefore, deserve to be poor/under duress/a loser/etc.)

And that side is this:  Failure embracement mostly works only when and/or if you can safely fail.

In many areas of life, it can be much easier to fail (nor will it necessarily even feel like a failure) when you have a safety net or support system to fall back on if the risky moves don’t pan out, whether that be financially, emotionally, physically, or what have you.  Building that company in your garage only works a) if you have access to a garage b) have the means to support yourself during that time and c) the means to recover and change course before things become dire.

To ignore otherwise can lead one to dismiss the role fortune has in all of our lives.  And to use it in a haughty way to tout yourself and/or to use it as a cudgel against others is definitively leading away from humility.