Thursday, October 27, 2011

In Work & In Life: Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner

In order to succeed, you must fail, so you know what not to do the next time.

That’s a powerful and fitting quote that came to mind after reading a recent Wired article entitled “Why Do Some People Learn Faster?”

The Wired article makes the case that "education isn’t magic. Education is wisdom wrung from failure."

The key in my mind, though, is taking the action to “wring” a lesson from failure.

Faster, Sooner
It isn’t enough to “Fail Faster” as many pundits suggest.  The difference is to be mindful of the lesson the mistake (or “Fail”) teaches us.

Certainly David Kelley's "Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner" is a useful axiom, popular with engineers, industrial designers, creative folks and others.  

For me, the concept of "failing faster" impacts everything from my work life as a marketing consultant (Which marketing programs work? Which programs don’t? Email subject line resulted in poor open rates? Try something new next time.), to dog training techniques (Puppy is still pulling at the leash, time to try a halty), to the weight loss journey I am on (Still “failing” with mindless snacking during those challenging hours between 4PM – 7PM), to dealing with teen-aged sons.  (Well, I don't want to make this blog post too long so won't attempt any illustrative examples.)

A Way That Works

Failure is inevitable. The faster we move and learn through failure, the faster we find a way that works.

This is a powerful idea: doing things wrong is a prerequisite to doing things right. Move through the failure quickly, learn the most you can, and move on.

I Must Have Been Mistaken
At the end of the day, it would be a mistake to try to avoid all mistakes.

But it’s a mistake not to pay attention to the lesson the mistake offers.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

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