Appreciating Failure

by | Jul 1, 2023 | Creativity

Neon sign that says avoiding failure is to avoid progress

I’m always fascinated by failures. We know it’s part of life and definitely part of being creative in our lives.

So, when I learned there’s a traveling exhibit about appreciating failure called the Museum of Failure, I couldn’t click fast enough.

The recent pop-up exhibit in New York features commercial products that failed. And visitors added sticky notes to a wall sharing their own failures. Yeah, I’d need a whole pad for that exercise.

While the exhibit looks like a fun memory walk, the message is serious – we’ve got to be willing to try new things, risk them not always working out, and learn from the experiences. In my world of improvement, we try to focus on failing forward fast. It doesn’t mean we want to fail, but we’re committed to appreciating failure when it happens, adjusting and continuing to fix the problem or meet the opportunity at hand. And this is certainly a big part of life as a writer.

Trying new ideas does involve risk, of course. And sometimes the risks feel too great. Or we need to figure out how to lessen the effects (money, safety, negative impact on others, reputation, etc.).

But sometimes the main risk really is about our personal comfort zone or fear level. Or there’s a lack of encouragement around us and it takes so much energy to combat that.

  • Where do you generally sit on the comfort scale in risking failure with your ideas?
  • Do you have an encouraging environment or does that hold you back sometimes?
  • Do you encourage others in your life to try out their ideas?

It isn’t clear where the Museum of Failure exhibit will go next, but I bet it would draw a crowd in my neck of the woods. Meanwhile, enjoy the examples on the website and this short ABC News video.

And pay attention to what happens when giving your own ideas a try. Strive to appreciate failure if they don’t pan out as hoped, pick apart the reasons and keep moving with that idea or others.