Most Influential Failure

Well we’re back from Greece, it was amazing to see the ancient and future history at the same time.

I also see that GeekWire has announced the continuation of the Seattle 2.0 awards (I won an award at the first Seattle 2.0 ceremony). I helped in judging this round and am excited to attend the event next week. I hope that you can attend as well.

Reflecting on the categories after spending all this time in Greece, I am a bit sad that we don’t have a category to honor the lessons learned from failing to build a successful startup. Failure is something Greece has never looked at critically in their culture and increasingly it is something that we in the U.S. are failing to appreciate. Failing at things happens!

As a father I can remember watching my first son learn how to walk. He would crawl for a bit, cling on to a chair I had in our apartment, then pull himself up with an amazing amount of effort. Then take a step or two and (usually gracefully) fall. I tried to help him, I held out my hand, I gave him examples, I coached him, yet he needed to fail on his own to learn how to do this task.

By the time my second son came of the age that he wanted to try it, I thought that it would be different. I thought that somehow he would have learned from his brother or that I would be a better coach. This wasn’t the case though. He similarly stood, stepped, and fell (not gracefully btw). As I look back at the pictures in my head and emotions in my heart, I realize that they had no ability to learn from other’s mistakes. They could only learn from their own mistakes.

Similarly in life and business, as adults we sometimes have the ability to learn from others failures and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we need to have our own failures and sometimes we can learn from other’s failures. In both cases, if we don’t learn to embrace failure. If we shun our own failures and the failures of others, our ability to learn from those failures makes no difference and we expose ourselves to a lack of progress.

I know that Marcelo has been very open about the lessons he learned with Sampa’s failure and Ben Bloch was pretty open Saying Goodbye to Whim, Lessons Learned.

Have you learned from startup failures?

What failure would you vote on as the most influential to your progress as a successful entrepreneur?

Comments (2)

  1. Pingback: Is Entrepreneurship The New Degree? « Josh Maher's Blog

  2. Pingback: On failure | Josh Maher's Blog

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