Today is 13th of October, which means that it's the International Fail Day today.
Also blogged about this (with videos) last year here:
Being an entrepreneur is a profession of rapid, lean & agile learning. And what does learning imply? It implies failing, iterating, trying, enterprising, venturing and taking a risk.
1) Failure is a lot about taking a risk. Encouraging risk taking is the key. Succeeding, especially succeeding big time, is usually a long road full of failing that culminate in success - the risk pays off. You know; the overnight success built during the last 10 years. It's a road of risk taking and taking charge of the risk with techniques like the lean methodologies. There can be little success without risk. "Nothing ventured - nothing gained". Fail day is really a day of encouraging risk taking and treating it as educational.
2) Often it's not the failure itself that educates us - rather it's the experience of failing. Success if inspirational, failure is educational. The experience of failing can be more important than the failure itself. Failing is practice. Failing repeatedly only amounts to an educational experience if you understand the fail and can learn from it. Practicing how to fail develops your meta skills: your ability to analyze what went wrong, how to assess the situation, how to correct it, what to change, what to try next etc. This meta-level of thinking and skills doesn't develop unless you have some understanding and a chance to asses your failure.
Example A: you are in an anonymous white room. There are 700 white anonymous buttons on a white anonymous panel. Your mission is to succeed by pressing the right buttons. You press a few buttons and in 60 seconds a voice tells you that you have failed. You don't know what the buttons mean, what you are supposed to get done, and what each of those buttons do. No information, just the end result "you have failed". This kind of environment is an extreme example of an environment where failure doesn't teach you much. You don't even know how long the sequence of pressing the buttons is supposed to be; so working out in what order to push through 700 separate buttons won't quite work for you either. The level of entropy involved is too great and figuring how to succeed in this could take decades or centuries.
Example B: you learn how to shoot a gun. You start with zero experience and fire a few bullets to a normal practice target. Your hits can be found from the lower-left corner of the target. Why didn't you hit the bullseye? An instructor tells you that your squeeze of the gun's trigger is too rapid; more of a pull than a squeeze, and this causes the hits to drift to lower-left corner of the target. You know why you failed and you can now repeat the exercise trying to squeeze the trigger gently instead of pulling on it. Eventually you will start to hit better and understand the causality of your shooting posture, your eye-line focus, your trigger squeeze, your breathing, your grip, location of your elbows etc all the factors involved in mastering the sharpshooting skill. Then you switch from the beginner .22LR pistol to a 9MM pistol and you are back in square one again: a different more powerful gun brings out and amplifies your mistakes by a factor of many and you have to re-learn everything you just learned.
Note that practice doesn't make you perfect. Perfect practice makes you perfect. You have to try and do it correctly - perfectly - at every repetition if you really aim toward being the grand champion.
3) Coping with the educational experience of failing is an emotional skill. When you repeatedly fail (as entrepreneurs often do) it can be quite emotional. You have to deal with emotions of frustration, self-doubt, general doubt, disbelief, bafflement, confusion, despair, anger, disappointment, sense of urgency, patience, calm, eagerness to receive feedback, etc.. The emotional scale is extremely wide and at time it is like a roller-coaster. In order to succeed you need to have the emotional skills to cope with all of this and handle the risk, face the risk, topple the risk. Becoming a champion and missing 9000 shots and losing 300 games (like Michael Jordan has) is an inner game. Locus of control is always with you - never with the outside circumstances. It's all in your head and you need to cope with it and win. It's an ultimate running race inside your head. The race is long and it's only against yourself. One relevant book btw regarding this is: The SAS Mental Endurance Handbook (ISBN 978-1-58574-442-8)
4) Success teaches us as much (or more) than failure. Success without risk is extremely rare (just luck?). And thus typically success is preceded by a full pipeline of fail. The people who succeed often learned how to do it during their pipeline of failures. That's why failure is emphasized as a totally valid way to learn. However it's all validated in the end only isn't it? The reward of success from your risk taking pays off and validates your experience. It teaches you what worked and what you could now try to repeat elsewhere and see if it works there just as well.
5) Smart people fail with item A, skip failure B and go directly into failing with item C. Very smart people see other people (or hear from other people) who have failed with A, B and C and go directly into failing with D themselves.
What this means is: listen to your seniors. Learn from their experience. Observe, make your own conclusions. Apply their knowledge if you can (most of it is not necessarily applicable at all - but some of it is - and they can't tell you which part; you have to figure that out yourself).
There's a reason why many successful people have mentors. Mentors can help you with several levels of failing: they can help boost your inner game. They can be the shooting instructor observing you, coaching you, and they can enlighten you with their wealth of experience out of which you can try to distill some wisdom to your own learning.
6) The objective is to learn - not to fail. Failing just for failings' sake is stupid. You are there to learn and risk taking (failing) is a valid way to learn. But don't be half-assed about it. Failing without learning is simply just a waste of your time. If that's your cup of tea I suggest you try it full-on then and see how it works for you: go sniff glue etc ;-) Naah, just making a point here about the goal: you are there to learn (for a very long time, in very long race) and failure really is risk taking, and that in turn is a technique and an opportunity to learn.
So; go fail, go learn, and take those risks! Without this you can't expect much results, much chance. Take the leap and learn!