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July 30, 2021

Falling Not Failing

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Something we all face off with all the time is the idea of failure. But let's introduce the perspective of Simon Sinek, who asks us to make our definition of “failing” more robust. Similar to how eskimos have different words for different types of snow, we should have multiple ways of communicating about failure. That’s because failure comes in many different forms, at all different levels, and with different implications. The problem is, anytime failure is mentioned we take it to the far extreme and treat it accordingly.

That catastrophic rock bottom failure is far from the norm. It’s actually only a small fraction of the failures we have, and to counter that Sinek encourages us to consider one additional definition. Instead of “failing”, call it “falling”. Kind of like a kid who is learning to walk, when you’re doing something new you’re likely to fall. But that’s not a major failure, it’s something that simply didn’t go completely according to plan. “Falling” is experiencing a setback that gives you feedback about how to do better next time, and in order to make things right all you have to do is get back up and try again.

When you fall it happens because you’re taking risks and pushing the boundary. Embracing discomfort and acting boldly is a trait I imagine many of us want to embody, but we’re afraid to do it because we’re afraid of failing. That’s not the real consequence. Falling is the consequence. What might happen is you take a small misstep, which is completely normal, you fall down, but you confidently stand yourself back up to try again.

With this new understanding, let’s consider falling more often because it demonstrates our commitment to making progress.

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