Failure, much more than success, helps us grow professionally and personally. And yet, it’s so hard to account for our failures. We prefer to think of ourselves as competent, effective people (see cognitive dissonance). And it’s embarrassing to share those failings because it’s counter to social norms.
However, a frank appreciation of one’s shortcomings is necessary for learning and to prevent their re-occurrence. I also think sharing one’s failures could begin to normalize the practice and make people more comfortable with their own bloopers. In a world where one’s carefully curated, high-gloss persona on social media means so much (too much?), this is also my little protest and inoculation against those pressures.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
So, I made an effort to list all the ways in which I sucked this year and what I learned. My criterion for inclusion here: am I mortified to share them publicly? Here they are (deep breath):
|The release of Decision Fish’s beta is late. By months.||Be mindful of overconfidence and the planning fallacy; allow more time for unexpected hurdles.|
|Our Minimum Viable Product (prototype) is not truly minimal.||Make only those improvements that will improve our Key Performance Indicators.|
|I didn’t fully stress-test the Excel prototype before we started coding.||Fully define a bunch of stress tests before applying them.|
|Our beloved illustrator moved on to other projects.||Set reminders to contact and pay attention to key people regularly.|
|So far, I have found only one person to coach.||I really have to ask people regularly, regardless of awkwardness and rejection.|
And these are just (some of) my failures at Decision Fish. As a teacher, I failed to clearly communicate to my students how much I respect and admire their efforts and their passion for public service. In my personal life, I procrastinated a minor medical procedure. Lessons: I must make a habit of giving students (mostly extroverts) more positive feedback (thanks for the tip, Cam). I also need to use my to-do list more consistently for personal needs.
Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness. – Oprah Winfrey
So, here’s to the occasional fail or even epic-fail; which we appreciate non-judgmentally, so we may learn, start again and grow. Who knows, maybe we will multiply the benefits of our failures by sharing them with others?
Feel free to share a failure/lesson in the comments below.
Have a great 2018!
CEO, Decision Fish LLC
P.S. Why the photos of stripped bikes? Yes, my bike was stolen this year. Here’s the advice I’m following so it doesn’t happen again.
Decision Fish is building a fun, online financial wellness program. We are looking for people willing to try it out early, even before it’s available to the public. Do you want some informal financial coaching or work at a company that still doesn’t offer a financial wellness benefit? Let us know!