In principle, failure is an option. In fact, it is only through failure — the timeless evolutionary principle of trial and error — that we adapt, innovate, and ultimately succeed.
Strategies like “failure is not an option” or “avoid failure at all cost” often result in simply prolonging failure until the cost is significant. The strategy to “fail fast and fail cheap” is often much more productive in the long run.
Practical Tip: Plan for failure and then learn from failures to build success. Build prototypes. Do demonstration projects. Run trials. Make small decisions that you know are not perfect and then perfect them, rather than investing lots of time and money into huge decisions that you hope are perfect.
When you think or see that something has failed, call it a failure. Accepting failure opens the door to new learning and forward progress. “What went wrong?” is an extremely valuable question. Pretending you succeeded when you really didn’t closes the door on forward progress and perpetuates more failure, no matter what you call it.
Define ultimate success for yourself, your project, your group, and simply view failures as stepping-stones along the way.
– Craig Freshley
Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.
8 thoughts on “Failure”
Thanks so much for writing, Philip.
Here’s a tip I wrote called Reflective Pause. It even references God.
And here’s a quick interview with a high school student called Say Your Third Thought. It’s pretty great.
And here’s a video I made called Silence:
Thanks for asking. I hope you find these helpful.
DO you have any tips for a “PAUSE” before reflections are given?
I’m the Missions Leader of Spiritual care at a catholic hospital.
Chaplain Philip Merioles
On Failure- You seem to be a Deming fan.
Thanks for an absolutely wonderful and spot-on history of my hometown.
good post, added you to my RSS reader.
I particularly like and appreciate the advice to “Make small decisions that you know are not perfect and then perfect them, rather than investing lots of time and money into huge decisions that you hope are perfect.” I bet there is some amazing work out there that never sees the light of day – because its creators are stuck in striving for perfection, or because they fear failure.
I appreciated this tip; however, the business world seems very impatient with things going wrong or even when one asks questions….particularly too many questions, or seems slow. The nonprofit world used to be more forgiving; however, with pressure to perform and generate income, less and less so. In a world that is moving so fast with technology and wanting employees to be all things to all people and multitask at the same time, mistakes and “failures” are bound to happen, even more so.
This is one of those times when I wish I could change the Tip even though I already sent it. Hmmm, perhaps I will. Anyway, rather than say “Plan to fail…..” I want to say, “Plan for failure…..” Well, trial and error!