Fail Better, Fail Quicker, Fail Incrementally.
That is the theme of a recent event I attended, Flounders in the Science Gallery in Trinity College, Dublin Ireland on 9th April 2014. This was part of the Science Gallery Fail Better exhibition, which acknowledges the attempts and efforts of inventors, designers, business people and ordinary ‘joe soaps’ in their attempts to deliver their dream.
Flounders was an event organised by a number of Irish entrepreneurs as an alternative to the success of those who attend the F.ounders events, acknowledging that life is never straight forward.
Exhibitions included Dysons 2000’th attempt to perfect the new vacuum cleaner, dc54, Formula 1 analysis of the destruction under race conditions of a back axle & suspension assembly on a Formula 1 racing car during a race, failure of the authorities in Ukraine around Chernobyl to enforce the safe zone around the reactor, and the old ladies that live and survive in the shadow, with their own nuclear moonshine that they distil.
The event #FailBetter from the Flounders was a celebration of failure, that we fail, pick up the pieces, learn from our mistakes and try again, hence the hashtag #FailBetter
The event as we Irish do well, storytelling. The night was on each individual story’s in their journey to build something that they had passion about. We all have our stories of achievements, but who has the ability to discuss those that did fail, either quietly or spectacularly as in some instants
We were treated to 8 different perspectives of failure, re-invention and carrying on with life, work and happiness including
- Tech: Blowing 140K in a few months and company folding 3 days before getting married.
- VC: Investing in a start up in form of programming work vs share capital, only to find this creeping into 6 digit figure, many multiples the actual value of the company, and then getting requested by Revenue, tax authorities for VAT on invoices reclaimed by the 2nd company, #twisting in the knife
- Property: Discovering the joys of property bubbles, having 80% of nightlife clubs in a city only to discover the recession at your doorstep, and an establishment bought for €9M now 5% of that market value, oh the joys of property speculations
- Journalism: Writing or failure to write an sizable article for a leading media outlet, informing your boss of failure to deliver on a deadline close to the deadline and then the ability of said person to deliver more expletives in a few seconds than thought possible, let alone the financial cost of not delivering this article.
- Media: Having a well know personality on the show only to discover they weren’t interested in delivering any set pieces of their show, and audience figures plummeting.
and my favourite, a Tech Entrepreneur;
- Realisation that close to Christmas time that the company was insoluble and likelihood to fail. Acceptance that they could always get a job if it did; this wasn’t the end of the world.
- Secondly, later in their entrepreneurial journey; the discovery having signed a multi-million deal for the purchase of the company, that the credit cards were maxed out and the inability to pay for the celebratory meal with friends.
This kind of sums up the life of an entrepreneur, living on the edge, using one card to pay the minimum payment on the other but forging on with their passion and determination for success.
I found it an enjoyable night with no sadness in evidence, it was the celebration of failure, failure is not an end point, just stepping stone to the next incarnation of your dreams. I have previously written about children’s ignorance to failure, how many times do they when babies fall over when attempting to walk. We have our hearts in our mouths, terror of the damage a fall will inflict, but does a fall stop them, the shock makes them cry, occasionally somebody is unfortunately hurt, but by far they carry on, pick themselves up and try again until they succeed. Similar to riding a bicycle. With or without stabilizers, we will fall, topple over, go astray and perhaps crash, but we get back up and with some practice gain the ability to cycle.
Failure is only momentary, it does not stop our journey, and we should celebrate the lesson learned, understand why it occurred and move ahead. Life is for living, work for enjoyment and failure only a knock that we bounce back from.