“Dude, suckin’ at something is just the first step towards being sorta good at something” – Jake the Dog
Just face it, there has been a moment (or moments) in life that you have failed. You’re human and we’re all bound to fail at some point or another. So what do you after that failure? Give up? Try again? Either way you learn from your failure and (hopefully) move on from it. However, when we go to move on from our failure what should our pace be? Should we quickly pick ourselves up and brush off the dust or should we live in that moment for a while and let the situation cultivate within us?
There has been this phrase floating around for a while now called “Fail Fast”. What does that mean exactly? Honestly, it means exactly what it sounds like it would mean. When a failure occurs, we should brush off the feeling of failing or being a failure and move on as soon as possible. Benny Lewis, author of the blog Fluent In Three Months, writes “The ratio of successes to failures may actually be the same as someone taking on the challenge for just a few days, but the difference is whether you decide to stop at a failure, or keep going until you get as many failures as possible out of your system until the only possible outcome is that you succeed.” To “fail fast” means to apply a system of failing and failing often, but not letting all those failures affect you in a way that interferes with your progress towards achievements.
So are people actually using this mantra of “fail fast” in their lives? Definitely. There are even books written on the subject. For example, Fail Fast and Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win written by Ryan Babineaux, PhD., and John Krumboltz, PhD., illustrates this concept and how people apply it. The book discusses how many successful people and businesses have used the “fail fast” concept to learn from their failures and mistakes to develop them into successes. To “fail fast” means to give yourself permission to mess up and still have the creativity to move past it. Sometimes the most creative and successful things are born out of the biggest failures.
What if you’re not a person who can “fail fast”? I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I am definitely not a “fail fast” person. So does that mean I won’t be as successful? Not at all. In fact, Rob Asghar, a Forbes Contributor, writes that on a recent visit to Silicon Valley (where the “fail fast” mantra is almost Biblical) an entrepreneur he met was quoted saying, “Many people here do talk about embracing any kind of failure, but that’s usually just hype. Many of them fear any kind of failure, and the pressure to succeed is so intense that some new businesses instead find themselves looking for shortcuts.” Does that mean this “fail fast” thing is just hype? Kinda. While it works for some people, it fails for others. Failure should not be taken lightly, but it also should not be taken so seriously that you can’t move forward. By pretending to embrace a failure like the “fail fast” idea tends to do, it could be potentially dangerous. Without fully embracing the fact that you have failed simply means that you are not learning and adapting from your mistakes like you should and those mistakes could be made over and over again.
While no one sets out to fail or be failure, it does happen and it might even happen often. Whether you are a person who can “fail fast” or live in that moment of failure to learn and adapt, just know that failure is not bad. Failure can be the beginning of something great.