Learning from Failure

Failure is a part of life and a part of business. Many of the greatest people have failed at some time. This week, FailFest14 launched as a new conference to focus on the success of failure. From the many presentations at this one-day conference, there were a lot of insights and pearls of wisdom to be learned.FailFest

"It is only through the lessons we learn when we fail that we pave the road to success."

Some would say that if you’ve never failed, then you’ve failed at having the chance to learn from those failures you missed. Overall, that was the focus of this conference—to learn from failure and to become bigger, better, stronger, and more focused as a result.

Within IT, some of the best ways to learn is to try new ways of coding and new approaches to solving problems. If you don’t try new things and risk failure, then you risk the chance to find better more efficient ways to build business solutions. It is often from our mistakes that we learn the most about coding. In fact, within the world of development, we have come to accept failure to the point of hiring people whose jobs are centered on finding the problems we’ve created.

The Fail Fest conference is structured to have a number of entrepreneurs present on various topics around failure. From these presentations, insights and lessons emerge on how these failures have led to lessons learned. In nearly every case, the failures were actually seen as opportunities to learn more than an event that stopped the forward progress.

In the following points, I present the tips, tricks, and comments that were pulled from this event. A lot of comments and quotes are very valuable lessons to apply to how you approach your development, your career, or even life in general.

  1. Fear of failure can be a driver.
  2. Most people have a very myopic view of success and failure. You need long-term goals.
  3. What do you do when you achieve your goals? If you don't have new, long-term goals, you could be setting yourself up for failure.
  4. Having more clarity on your long-term goals can make it easier to focus on the actions you need to accomplish today. You should start your focus on the long-term goals. If what you are doing today doesn't drive towards those goals, you are focused on the wrong things today.
  5. Without clear long-term goals, you won't have the "grit" to survive failure.
  6. "If you never stop and you don't let things push you down, then you didn't really fail."
  7. Susan Baroncini-Moe presented six steps around failure:
    1. If you fail, feel bad. But feel bad only for a short, limited time.
    2. Acknowledge your successes. If you fail at something, take the time to look at what was accomplished and what you did successfully. Chances are, there is success around where you perceive failure.
    3. Analyze mistakes. Make sure you look at where you made the mistake that led to failure and learn from it.
    4. Decide what your story is going to be. You can look at how something went wrong, or you can look at the positive. For example, you can say the code was buggy and we fixed six things, or you can say the code is now even better because we fixed six things. You determine the story.
    5. Strategize for the future.
    6. Take action. Simply put, do something.
  8. Ultimately, you have the power to transform failure into success. You decide what happens next.
  9. Failing doesn't make you a failure.
  10. Innovation lasts a shorter time now than it did in the past.
  11. "All things are possible for people who don't have to actually 'do'".
  12. Only spend time with people who can help you or who will spend money with you. Don't waste time with the wrong people.
  13. To help avoid failure, be vulnerable and ask questions.
  14. Don’t be driven by fear.
  15. Similar to some of the above comments, you need to define what you consider success before you worry about failure.
  16. When you screw up, own it. Failure happens, and you'll go farther quicker if you own it.
  17. Expect failure to happen. Don't be afraid of it.
  18. One of the differences between millionaires and those who aren't millionaires is that millionaires didn't give up.
  19. The first thing you should do in your day is make your bed. It is your first accomplishment!
  20. It's not meetings that kill you. It is the planning for meetings.

There were a lot more than twenty items to learn from this conference, but the above are some of the comments and ideas presented by people such as those mentioned above as well as by David Becker, Clay Robinson, Jonathon Perrelli, Neal Rothermel, Tiffany Saunder, Scott Fadness, Quinn Buckner, Scott Jones, and many more.

You can learn more about Fail Fest at www.FailFest.us. In the meantime, if you have a tip or comment relative to failure, feel free to share in the comments on this article!

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