Failing forward is an entrepreneurial philosophy embracing and learning from failure. Thomas Edison, Wayne Gretzky, Albert Einstein, and Jim Peacock have all had many great failures. The key is to “fail forward”…. learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to try something new again.
In a recent Inc. magazine, they wrote about a “Failure Church” where one company encouraged its employees to proclaim their failures out loud. Some failures were small, some big, and after the person announced their failure all the attendees applaud wildly! Pretty bizarre but they all said it feels good to get the failure off their chest and feels even BETTER when their fellow employees applaud.
It actually encourages employees to try new things. Failure Church is a support group with failures that, too often, we brush under the carpet like the gambler who only tells people when they win. Other cultures encourage students and people to work hard and to keep trying even when you don’t understand something. This process is filled with failures. But with hard work, perseverance, and some risk taking, failures often lead to successes. It is really what you LEARN from the experience that counts.
“The key is to fail forward…. learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to try something new again”
This fear of failure can pervade our work life by not trying something new and our personal life by living a stodgy boring life because you don’t try anything new. Happenstance Learning Theory tells us we can discover opportunities by taking action and “creating luck” which I like to call “intentional serendipity”. A person taking my Facilitating Career Development (FCD) class recently posted how her friends dad was told he’d never work in the animation field and was let go by Disney to open a small startup called Pixar. He encouraged his daughter and her friends to always “fail forward”, take risks, learn from them, and keep going forward.
Take action and use “intentional serendipity”, take some risks, and be open to what you discover. College students declare majors and then discover they “don’t want to do that”, which can be perceived by family and friends as a “failure”. We need to encourage students to embrace change and to try new things such as info interviews, involvement in activities, volunteer, internships, etc.. and fail forward.
Life is not a dress rehearsal.... you need to “go for it” when you want to improve your business, better yourself, or help your clients/students learn. Embrace failure, but “fail forward” learn from it, improve on it, and keep taking action. Wake up and love what you do taking chances and enjoying the serendipity that life brings us.
What risks will you take?
If you like this topic of discovering opportunities through failure and embracing intentional serendipity, you might want to check out this 5 week, discussion-based, online seminar for career practitioners.
Career Advising Using Happenstance.
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a weekly email for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
He is the author of A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Your Clients Create Their Next Move and The Adventure of Finding Me in New Zealand. In 2020 he received the Kenneth C. Hoyt Award from the National Career Development Association and the Mid-Atlantic Career Counseling Association’s Professional Contribution’s Award.
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