AskNickUsborne Newsletter Try not to fail too much
Sent Wednesday, May 4, 2011
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ARTICLE: Failure isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, it
As I browse my Twitter stream, I find a surprising number of tweets
which, in one way or another, praise the value of failing.
Many of them, I imagine, owe their heritage to this famous quote by
"Failure is nature's plan to prepare you for great
Plus there are variations on the theme, like the suggestion that if
something doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.
On top of that, there are tons of coaches, gurus and others who
praise the value of failure when it comes to trying to create new
stuff - new products, services and so on.
I get that. I really do. I understand the value of being courageous
and trying something scary. If and when you fail, you will
doubtless have learned some valuable lessons.
Indeed, some venture capitalists in the tech industry have gone so
far as to say they won't invest in anyone who hasn't failed yet.
But now let me add my own observation to this discussion.
Really, it does.
Over the last 30 years as a freelancer and all around solopreneur I
have tried many things. Some have worked really well, others have
been quiet failures.
The quiet failures have not been a problem. And yes, I learned a
lot from them.
But about 15 years ago I invested all my money, heart and soul into
a venture that meant a huge amount to me. And it failed, big time.
Failure on a grand scale may well be a learning experience, but it
also punishes you severely.
From the day I closed the doors on that business I was a nervous
wreck for about two years. A complete mess. My confidence was
crushed. My world had come to an end.
As for the financial side, I didn't go bankrupt, but it is only
now, 15 years later, that I am finally crawling out of the hole
So when I read people's tweets and see how happy and chipper people
are about leaping into failure, I feel like sitting them down for a
good talking to.
As for my coaching clients, while I may encourage bold ambitions,
and even plans which carry a fair amount of risk, I never ever
suggest there is a positive side to failure.
Yes there is a fine line between being too cautious and being too
If you are too cautious, you will never create anything worthwhile.
If you are too bold, you run the risk of losing everything.
My own inclination is and always has been to be bold and ambitious.
Mostly it works out well for me. Sometimes not so much.
But when you make your own plans, or listen to the advice of
friends or advisors, please discount any notion that failure is
somehow cool or romantic.
It isn't. Failure is painful. Failure sucks.
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Articles from previous issues of this newsletter can be found here:
Testimonials from former coaching clients are here: