I Hope You Fail: Here's Why
In the early 1970s, an ordinary 16 year old boy was growing up in London. Years later, he would unexpectedly go on to affect billions of people worldwide. At the time, however, nobody even knew his name.
This boy was pretty much a failure academically. He had dyslexia and struggled in school, resulting in him dropping out at 16.
He then decided to start a student magazine. It never went on to make much money, and in the end, when the boy failed to sell it on, the magazine got shut down.
His music player, designed to rival the ipod and itunes, was closed down a year after its launch.
His car selling venture was a disappointment too. He predicted that they would sell 24,000 cars in the first year - they only sold 2000. The company was soon closed down in 2005.
His underwear company collapsed into administration in 2005.
His bridal dresses company didn't turn any profits and folded in 2007.
This guy failed on both a small scale and a spectacular scale, involving serious money.
Despite these downfalls and more, however, this boy went on to:
- Own over 400 companies
- Become a multi-billionaire (he's the 7th richest person in the UK, in fact)
- Buy his own private islands (yes, plural)
- Is currently creating a way for civilians to experience space travel
- And has broken several world records in his spare time.
Not bad, huh?
That mans name was Sir Richard Branson (you've probably heard of him. He's the Virgin guy).
And a key belief he held that led to these astronomical successes, after SO many failures, was....
... that 'failure is valuable'.
This is a message that I think is particularly important to students.
We're taught in school that we should avoid failure at all costs and ensure that we're always passing those exams. So over the years, our minds have been 'programmed' to see failure in a negative light, like this:
- Failure is when you try something and don't succeed.
- You're seen as an incompetent loser by others if you fail.
- It leads to feelings of embarrassment, depression, frustration and anger.
But I'd like to argue the opposite.
Failure is not bad. In fact, it's fantastic.
And I hope you fail. Here's why:
- Leads to growth. You learn invaluable stuff as a result of it (when I fail in an exam, I use that feedback to learn what NOT to do next, and that's awesome, because I improve).
- It's character building. You learn how to deal with challenging set backs and feelings.
- It forces you to become a problem solver.
- And in the end, because of all the things I've listed above and more, it leads to success.
Failure is great stuff. Failure makes great people.
After all, Branson didn't let those failures throughout his life hold him back. Instead, he learnt from them.
And if you don't believe me when I say how much value Branson saw in failing, here it is in his own words:
Or, as Robert Kiyosaki says:
Take a look at all the big shots in history and today.
I'm telling you, they failed a LOT. And that's what led them to their successes today.
(Remember, it took Thomas Edison 2000 failed attempts before he created a functioning light bulb.)
I love Marie Forleo's recent video, on how to deal with devastating setbacks, where her guest Cathy says (to paraphrase her):
'Failure' and success are not two separate paths, they're both on the same path. Success just exists further down that road. So you must experience many little 'failures' along the path before you reach success. You cannot get to success without those 'failures'.
So, here's your task:
In the comments section, tell me about a big 'failure' moment in your life, and all the learning opportunities and good that came out of it.
It's time to start reprogramming our minds to see failure for what it really is; a heck of a lot of goodness.
Business Insider's article on Richard Branson's business failures.
A big thanks to:
James Clear, his article on the beginnings of IKEA was a big inspiration for this post.
Into The Gloss, who the image is courtesy of.