There is a lot of talk going on about failure these days. A lot of entrepreneurs and thinkers are challenging the common perception that failure is the worst possible outcome and fighting against a culture, inculcated in schools, that fears failure to the point of paralysis.
I’ve written before about failure not being so scary, about willingness to fail being a great test, about failure to achieve your own goals as good when those goals change over time, and even about the benefits of entrepreneurial failure.
Still, it’s easy for counter-intuitive ideas to become buzzwords and descend into silliness or even become really bad advice. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, whose ideas I greatly respect, says all this talk about failure is a misguided “Silicon Valley bromide”.
So which is it? Is failure a wonderful learning experience to be embraced or a terrible outcome to be avoided?
I don’t actually think there’s a conflict here if we understand the best version of both positions correctly. Failure’s not good. We should plan and work and seek to avoid it. But the fear of it is worse. We should be capable of failing at projects without taking on a feeling of failure as people.
I address this question in depth and provide a fuller explanation in this short podcast episode. I hope I don’t fail to get the ideas across…but even if I do, I won’t let it get to me!