Is There Value in Failure?


From a tabloid point of view, the public seems to be enamored by the failures of the famous.  The value of failure to those magazine is self-evident.

If we narrow down the value of failure to endeavors that change the world and our lives, the classic example of failing your way to success is Thomas Edison, who once said, “I make more mistakes than anyone I know. And eventually I patent them.”

Sadly, for those fail and don’t later succeed, we don’t have their stories, we don’t see their pithy quotes.  They fad into obscurity. Or do they?

According to Tim Harford the authored of “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure,” Google fails a lot, but they learn fast.  Google values failure in the following ways: 1) discerning why you failed and applying that to future projects; and 2) speed: fail fast and early before investing more than necessary or damaging your brand. [Source: Fast Company]


This of course means that you have a learning attitude toward failure. 

In her article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” Amy C. Edmondson said “Once a failure has been detected, it’s essential to go beyond the obvious and superficial reasons for it to understand the root causes. This requires the discipline—better yet, the enthusiasm—to use sophisticated analysis to ensure that the right lessons are learned and the right remedies are employed.”


The learning process or strategy is key. 

A new friend, Kevin Kruse failed twice to run a success business before he got it right.  He is in good company.  Geoffrey James Contributing editor,, said.  “The best entrepreneurs are those who’ve failed at least once, because they’ve learned what doesn’t work as well as what does. As a general rule, people learn more from failures than from success.”


Henry Petroski, a professor of engineering and history at Duke University put it this way:

“Successes are not very interesting… they don’t teach us anything…failure … presents real lessons to be learned, because there’s no ambiguity. When something fails, it failed.”


If failure is inevitable then success is contingent upon your perceptions, actions and recovery from a failure.  From that informed point of view you can rationally build a learning strategy to change your attitude, update your skills or knowledge and put yourself on the path to success.

Share what you have learned from your failures by leaving a comment.

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