Thursday, February 19, 2015


To Embrace Greatness, Embrace Failure

Here’s the deal: You're smart. You're creative. You know what you're doing. But you're scared as hell of failing and making mistakes. Maybe it’s because you've been so damned good at whatever you've done your whole life. Maybe it’s because you quit a good thing to pick up something risky. Maybe it’s because you're scared of what happens when you don’t fail. I get that. I do. I could write all day about how you need to embrace failure and mistakes before you can really unleash your creative potential, but who am I to tell you this? So I've enlisted the help of a few thousand years worth of creatives to help me out:

“If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”.
-Thomas A. Edison (1847 – 1931), Encyclopaedia Britannica
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit – I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
-Ernest Hemingway
“To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.”
-Plutarch (46 AD – 120 AD)
“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
-E. J. Phelps
“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
-Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
– Steve Jobs (1955 –2011 )
 “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-Scott Adams (1957 – ), ‘The Dilbert Principle’

"If you don't make mistakes, you're not working hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake."
Frank Wilczek (1951- )

The bottom-line: I’d tell you to get over your fear of failure and mistakes, but it’s natural to feel that way. I’m asking you to understand that failure and mistakes are part and parcel of greatness. You can either let fear of failure and mistakes cripple you and keep you stuck, or you can join the rest of the successes throughout history and rack up a good tab of failures and mistakes while you're at it. Your call.

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