Failing: it is not always a bad thing!
Ever feel like you are failing with your projects or some aspects of it? Or even in your personal or work life? Do not worry, you are not the only one. Failure is almost inevitable when it comes to success. Since many business owners, marketers or inventors are only human, they have failed many times, even miserably. Some of them have still found a way to make their dream or idea happen, despite the setbacks. Johnson & Johnson takes the concept of failure a bit further and claims that “failure is our most important product”. In the book “Fail Better! Stumbling to Success in Sales & Marketing” by Stephen Brown (Marshall Cavendish Ltd & , 2007), the author explains many real from-fail-to-success stories from various businesses, marketers, and others. They have used unconventional ways to make their dreams and ideas happen. According to Brown, there are six essential attributes shared by the failures who have succeeded: ambition, activity, astigmatism, amplification, aphorism and ambiguity. This essay won’t concentrate mainly on those six attributes.
The book explains stories from different business owners and their marketing and sales strategies. One of them was the story of Miuccia Prada, who was reluctant to join the family business of leatherwear (Prada). She refused to follow conventional and safe ways to design her collections. To this day, she would rather take a risk than be in the comfort zone or follow consumer-oriented expectations (Brown 2007, p. 3). Now she is one of the most known fashion designers. Many other examples arise in the book about unconventional publicity stunts and ways of marketing. The people in these examples are “commercial nonconformists”. According to Brown, the people in these examples “succeeded despite established marketing principles, not because of them.”
Being unconventional catches people’s attention, like Miuccia Prada’s designs. Today we hear a lot about different marketing strategies and stunts in the media: some people might be outraged by these marketing ideas, but the more people get outraged and notice it, it might imply that the marketing strategy has worked, the company gets more money and publicity, whether it is good or bad. It is occasionally hard to take a step out of your comfort zone and the social norms of how sales and marketing are done.
Failure is something that is hard to overcome, but does not let it keep you down! The author mentions a couple of stories, for example, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Harland David Sanders: he had failed in almost every single thing and occupation he had tried in his life until he founded KFC at the age of 65. Another one was the story of Joe Girard, who was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the best car salesman ever. He was originally a housebuilder who went bankrupt. He was hopeless to find a way to make a living, so he convinced a local car dealer to hire him. It took him a while to get customers but eventually, he got one and the only way was up after that. He also had a stutter, which makes this failure even better, you might say!
According to pediatrician Dr. Laura A. Jana, overcoming failure is one of the crucial soft skills people need these days, and parents should teach their kids. (Dr. Laura A. Jana, TedTalk 2018). She described this kind of skill, alongside others, as “wobble skills”: you might wobble a bit but stand back up. The ability to overcome and learn from failure is a highly praised skill. Doctor Jana thinks that it is important to also praise not only milestones but the fact that someone has failed and then overcame and learned from the mistake and turned it into success and prosperity.
Most people say that one of their biggest fear is failure because it is often thought as a huge step back when trying to succeed. But when overcoming failure, trying again, and learning from mistakes, it is a way to move out of the comfort zone and being a step closer to success. These said skills are a good key to success along with self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and other skills Doctor Jana has mentioned in her TedTalk.
Fail, fail, fail!
The next time you do not take a project because you are scared of failing, do not hesitate. Get a mindset that failure is good and the only way is up! Take the same mindset if a possible failure will happen in your future prospects. Failing feels horrible, but when having the right mindset, you can do whatever you want, and you can fail even better in the future! To conclude this essay in the words of Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Brown, S. (2007). Fail Better! Stumbling to Success in Sales & Marketing. Marshall Cavendish Limited, London, United Kingdom.
Dr. Jana, L.A. (2018). Skills Every Child Will Need to Succeed in 21st Century. TEDxChandigarh, the United States/India.