When Failure Happens….Fail Forward!!!!!!


When failure happens embrace it…learn from it and grow! Failure is something we tend to shy away from, probably one of the things we cannot openly talk about. We fear the embarrassment and judgement that comes with being labeled a failure or having failed at something no matter how big or small! No one wants to be known as that person who failed. What we need to realise is that failure is actually part of the process, it is part of the learning in the big bad world we call life. It shows that you are trying….you did something unlike your neighbour who sat there and complained.  There is definitely more value in mistakes and failures because it shows us what we can improve on and what doesn’t work so we do better next time. I really appreciated the Lean Startup moto: “Fail fast succeed faster”. The problem is we refuse to try things because we do not want to fail. If you don’t try how will you ever succeed or know what success feels like.


The iceberg illusion is something I really connected with too. People have a tendency of seeing the tip of the iceberg, seeing only the success. But when your iceberg gets hit by the titanic aka reality….you realise that there is a lot more complexity to success. People only see or choose to see the glitz and  glamour. People only see the success. They don’t see the failure, resistance, sleepless nights, constant attempts, co-founder fights, failed processes and structures.


I thought it interesting to also highlight some famous failures from famous people that we tend to overlook:


My lessons from failure:

  1. Own your mistakes and failures: We have tendency of pointing blame onto others when things go wrong. Take ownership of your mistakes and acknowledge your role in the situation even if it is a small part. It is still your mistake in one form or the other!!
  2. Align your personal goals with that of an organisation. Things can really go pear shaped if you are not aligned with your teammates and overall vision. We take this for granted but this can become a real problem if it is not addressed.
  3. Founder’s syndrome: Something I learnt about as a co-founder of a startup, is something called the Founder’s syndrome. It is dangerous and can literally destroy everything you worked so hard to build =?”Founder’s Syndrome occurs when a single individual or a small group of individuals bring an organization through tough times (a start-up, a growth spurt, a financial collapse, etc.). Often these sorts of situations require a strong passionate personality – someone who can make fast decisions and motivate people to action.Once those rough times are over, however, the decision-making needs of the organization change, requiring mechanisms for shared responsibility and authority. It is when those decision-making mechanisms don’t change, regardless of growth and changes on the program side, that Founder’s Syndrome becomes an issue”
  4. Act now talk later!! Prototype! Prototype! Prototype! Take the time to do what we term a minimum viable product or a pilot of whatever you are working on. Get to know the kinks and what the customers/beneficiary wants.
  5. Invalidate your assumptions: Never assume anything! You will get a rude awakening when you realise you assumed wrong. Take time to validate or invalidate your assumptions about people, you will save yourself a lot of pain and drama.
  6. Ego wars: Never let your ego or the ego of others get in the way of the mission.
  7. A good idea does not always guarantee success. If you have poor team dynamics  and the many other things that can go wrong , and you fail to mitigate them cause you think you have a great idea, you are probably doomed to fail. Make sure you do your #DueDiligence even if they are your buddies.
  8. Learn to identify dream sellers: One big lesson I have learnt, don’t be gullible to the extent you can’t tell who “sells dream”.  I have realised there are many people in this country who are good at telling a good story and making promises on things they can’t and will not deliver on.  Wake up and avoid people like that.
  9. Never give up! There comes a point where you feel like just letting go and letting things die. Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe cause no one else will. But you also have to trust your intuition when it is time to let go .
  10. Embrace and learn from the experience and FAIL FORWARD: Fighting the feeling will only make it harder. Embrace it and learn what you can so you can do things better. Move forward knowing that the experience will make you stronger.





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