In the social media age of highlight reels, the societal tendency to glorify success and celebrate milestones is on steroids. We keep mum about anything less than perfect, and relegate any inadequacies to the shadows of shame. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the narrative. Perhaps it’s time to challenge the stigma of failure as a sign of incompetence, and reframe success as a journey rather than a destination. Because cliché as that sounds, we ought not see failures as dead-ends. If anything, they are crossroads that redirect us towards discovery and improvement.
In tech, Fail-fast is a stress-test principle for success. Developers are encouraged let software fail loudly i.e., it’s literally best practice to amplify the failure via email, raising tickets or any related channels. Prevention is not a solution here; it only hides potential problems which become harder and more costly to fix when they do eventually surface. The earlier you detect bugs, the fewer defective bugs go into production, and the faster it is to achieve stabilised and higher quality software. It’s a useful metaphor for what would have otherwise just been Bear Grylls’ improvise, adapt, overcome meme.
Say it louder for the people at the back: Failing does not make you a failure. So why the aversion to talking about our failures? Not only is failure a catalyst for growth, the willingness to broadcast it is far from weakness. Rather, quite the opposite. It fosters a mindset that transcends the fear of judgment. It is a testament to courage that dismantles an impractical façade, cultivating an environment that values authenticity.
As writer Justin Brady points out on Harvard Business Review; there are side-effects for not being real about your mistakes. Besides an unhealthy intolerance towards failure from others, which stifles experimentation and subsequently creativity, you will find your own failures hard to handle. You may think it reaffirms a negative belief about yourself, which manifests as an overwhelming barrage of disappointment and frustration.
So let’s not conform to only praising the good, but bond over the bad and the ugly; because failure is one profound connection that makes us human.