Celebrating Failure is in Fashion

Celebrating Failure is in Fashion

Gideon Lichfield writes:

Failure is in fashion. ‘Fail Fast' is Silicon Valley’s motto, and failed startup founders readily share their lessons.

But these discussions of failure tend to come with a shallow moral: that after all the disappointment and heartache comes hard-earned success. The implication from CEOs and celebrities who boast of having been knocked down is that they eventually triumphed—and so can you! They use failure to burnish their success, to craft the story, to build the brand, to suggest empathy.

We read about the failures that lead to victory. We don’t hear of the ones that end in defeat. They don’t fit our myths, our hero’s journeys. But that is how most of us mere mortals fail; without fanfare and without vindication. We try, fail, try again, fail again, grit our teeth, and move on. True vulnerability is admitting that you’ve failed, you’re still failing, and it hurts like hell. Being honest about this while you’re still in the thick of it is the real triumph.

Bond Notes are coming. Zimbabweans are on the verge of losing their life's savings and hard-earned businesses again. The incentive has been sucked out of the market. And right when you thought it might creep back in, the little that is left has been squashed.

Speaking personally, our Emerging Ideas team has more failure than success at this point. And daily, the minor successes we have experienced are coming face-to-face with the possibility of defeat.

So what do you do when faced with this overwhelming daily insanity?

We keep on. We keep casting vision, persevering through tough times, inspiring and encouraging ourselves (and hopefully a few of you).

Our quarterly updates will continue to come—even though they are painful to think through, disseminate, and produce. And there will be a front row view for those of you who are also struggling to make a living, yet continuing to help those around you.

We aren’t promising success—not to ourselves and not to you. We’re not even sure what that looks like, frankly. But we are promising an honest and truthful look at what it means to stand with faith, believe for something bigger than ourselves, and cast vision that has the potential to outlast our lifetimes.

Don’t give up.

(photo via stuart rankin)