How To Learn To Fail

Building our startup, we’ve learned that the default status of a business is failure.

It’s statistically proven and is the reason why successes are so rare. Winning is cool but you also get something when you lose, a lot more actually. The problem lies in that a lot of people, us included, are afraid to fail.

Failure is something not taught in school.

Flunking a test, losing a competition, dropping a subject, all of these are failures in the eyes of the school system. But when you fail, that is also the time when you learn the most.

You become humble. You learn perseverance. You become tenacious and look for other ways to win. So it’s a contradiction of sorts how schools don’t support failures as much as successes.

Learn by failing faster.

The only reason we hate failing is because of the social and emotional connections to it. Our peers don’t respect us as much. We feel down when we lose. But if you fail more and more, you learn exponentially until you finally crack the code and win.

What’s a safe environment where you can fail over and over without much downside?


Play games. A lot.

By games, I’m referring to online games. None of the casual games or games of chance, but those games that really involve skill, even if it’s just tapping. Pick a game with a really good difficulty level, those types that are easy to learn but hard to master.

Flappy Bird is one of these, as well as more traditional games like Words With Friends or my new favorite Threes. When you play online, it’s really just you and your computer. Don’t mind your opponent and turn off chat if you can. You’re here for the challenge!

So socially, you have no ties to winning (unless you share of Facebook) and emotionally, think of this as just one match our of hundreds. You will not reach the goal in one try or even a dozen tries but just keep pressing on and you’ll get there.

Take this outside.

Of course, all this is useless if you don’t take what you’ve learned to the real world.

When you apply for a job, for example, think of it as just one of many you will apply for. Each interview is a learning experience to improve on the next one. Look back to your games and apply that mindset when taking on challenges.

I’m urging you to fail safely by playing games. But don’t just keep on playing, use that to your advantage in the real world.

Have you failed any time recently? Let us know in the comments and we might just send you a 199Jobs shirt. :D

Photo credit: sixthlie and phobia

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