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How to Fail Forward in Business


How to Fail Forward in Business

Susan Hamilton Meier shares an evergreen article that identifies the benefits of making mistakes.

We love a perfect score, a best in class, a success story. But reality is messy. That entrepreneur with the “overnight success” has been at it for 20 years. That best-selling author was first a failed musician. That “perfect marriage” has weathered a few serious rough patches.

Messing up is, in fact, an essential component of success. Innovative companies invest in risky ideas, understanding that many of them will fail. Many highly successful people have made spectacular messes. Certainly, in everyday life, all the little mini-fails are a big part of the learning process. The allure of perfection is strong, but it’s actually the messy mess-ups that lead us to great things.

Beware the GOAT.

Trying to be the Greatest of All Time is the curse of overachievers everywhere. It will almost certainly not happen, and it will probably make you miserable. Striving for achievement leaves you focusing so hard on the goal that you miss the unexpected opportunities and exciting connections that come along. Instead, show up with an open mind, put in solid work, connect with interesting people, and follow where that leads. As your high school coach may have told you, you miss every shot you don’t take. Don’t let your desire to be great make you too afraid to try. 

If you’re not falling, you’re not learning. 

I learned to ski when I was 16, amid a group of friends who’d been skiing since they could walk. It was an awkward situation, and I was prepared to feel embarrassed. The first day out, my instructor started off the lesson by saying, “Remember, if you’re not falling, you’re not learning.” With one sentence, he erased my fear. He gave me permission to fail by setting the expectation that I would fall and that falling would be productive. Reframing each fall as a step forward is something I’ve carried into my life. To do something well, you have to do it badly first.


Key points include:

  • Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Permission to fail
  • The pathway to discovery

Read the full article, The Power of Messing Up, on LinkedIn.