Failing Forward: Fail Early, Fast, Often, and Better

Sometime in our life, we failed. Perhaps in school, or in our family, perhaps in our career, or in business ventures, or in relationships that has gotten sour. Simply, sometime in our life, we have not meet expectations, and depending on severity, it could be a very awful experience.

Scientifically, the more senses we use to learn something, the more chances that we’ll retain the information. That’s why we learn best from failures. The emotional and mental stress a failure bring carves an unforgettable information to our memory. But failing without learning is a waste. We need to “Fail Forward” and here’s what it means:

  • Failing Early – The sooner we fail, the more time we save on learning something. It may also give us time to correct the wrong and move forward.
  • Failing Fast – This is useful in developing software where we can use a failing test before deploying the code. If you fail fast, you learn faster.
  • Fail Often – Frequency is an aid for the learning process. The more failures we have, the more we learn what works and don’t.
  • Fail Better – Don’t repeat previous wrongs. Maximize the learning opportunity by sharing tips to others. That’s why getting a mentor with vast experience related to your endeavor is really worth it – as they will help you avoid failures they have already experienced, saving you the cost of failure.

Failure helps you grow. Consider failure as part of success, because it really is. Take a look at some of these famous people:

Emilio Estefan – a Cuban immigrant with attention deficit disorder, was told by a professor that he was “too old” to learn music. He later become a successful musician, producer, and director, with 19 Grammy Awards to his credit.

Robert Downey Jr. – had drug-related criminal charges and goes in and out of rehab. Now he has at least six movies that have each grossed at least $500 million at the box office worldwide. Downey now tops Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors.

Abraham Lincoln – lost six times at bids for political office, but become President of the United States at age 52.

J. K. Rowling – was a jobless, single mom but Harry Potter series of books made her the richest woman in Great Britain.

Vincent Van Gogh – sold only one painting in his lifetime—“The Red Vineyard”— just months before his death. He is a drunkard, and considered a total failure in his time. But his paintings are worth millions of dollars today! Ha, look at how we was redeemed posthumously.

Harrison Ford – a Hollywood executive advised him that he’d never succeed in the movie business. But Ford is a big name in Hollywood today.

Theodore Seuss Geisel  better known—and beloved—as Dr. Seuss, had his first book rejected by 27 publishers.

Harland David “Colonel” Sanders – tried more than a thousand deals to sell his chicken recipe, until he brokered a deal in Utah to what known today as Kentucky Fried Chicken – and he was already 74 years old that time!

Steven Spielberg – was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts not once but several times!

Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues – was told he was too short to play basketball (standing only 5’3″). Bogues became one of the most popular players in the Charlotte Hornets’ history.

Winston Churchill – suffered from a speech impediment, failed the sixth grade, was sickly, and lost every election for public office until finally becoming the prime minister of the United Kingdom at age 62. He is one of the greatest orators and leaders in world history.

Walt Disney – Sunk to more than $3 million in debt from business failures, then he released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a blockbuster film that lifted to build Disneyland.

Thomas Edison – inventor of the light bulb after more than 10,000 failures

Michael Jordan – lost almost 300 games and missed 9,000 shots in his illustrious career.

Albert Einstein – failed to speak until he was three years old. His parents were told he might be mentally retarded.

Stephen King – his novel Carrie was rejected by 30 publishers. It later became a bestseller and made as movie.

Oprah Winfrey – was fired from her first television job in Baltimore and was told she was “unfit for TV.”

Henry Ford – failed 3 sets of investors before attaining success with his automobile company.

Conan O’Brien – lost his first job in television and went on to work a series of menial jobs while launching one failed project after another before landing the television role of his lifetime, replacing David Letterman as the host of Late Night.

F. Scott Fitzgerald – wrote “The Great Gatsby” and sold only 20,000 copies in its first year. Fitzgerald died in 1940, believing himself a failure and his work forgotten. However, the novel experienced a revival during World War II. Today, The Great Gatsby is widely considered a literary classic and is consistently ranked among the greatest works of American literature.

Sara Blakely – failed to get into law school and took a job selling fax machines door-to-door. She set aside her life savings of $5,000 to work on an idea of creating seamless and form-flattering undergarments. After dozens of potential investors rejected her idea, in its first year, Spanx made $4 million in profits. Blakely is the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire.

Failure by any name, is still failure, and considering other factors equal, success is better. Yet, don’t be afraid to fail, especially if you are still young. See how some of the best success stories start with failure? You can always stand up, and fail your way to success!

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