Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

In business as in life, if you never fail, you'll probably miss out on some important lessons.

February 22 2016

What's so wrong about failing? You do it every day. From using the snooze button for those five extra minutes in bed to other little daily distractions. Still, we can all agree that failing to get out of bed isn’t the same as a mistake resulting with big money company losses.

So, what does it mean to fail? In the current corporate sense it simply means not doing the job you're getting paid for, or not succeeding at it. If you fail, you're doing it wrong and nobody wants that. But do we want to learn? See, the thing is the two usually go hand in hand. If you never failed, you’d probably miss out on some important lessons along the way.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.

ConfuciusA renowned Chinese philosopher

Is failure something bad?

Let’s put it like this - Nobody wants to fail, but it’s inevitable. Of course I'm not telling you to intentionally cost your company money, but inevitably you are going to fail, and it’s going to hurt. Does that make you incompetent? Does it mean that you have to resign from your position or get fired? As long as your desire to succeed is greater than your fear of failure, it shouldn’t, not in a good company.

Sometimes you want to fail fast and fail hard just to see if a product is sustainable. When you fail, you learn what not to do next time, and you’ll never forget that lesson.
Don’t make it personal. Failure isn’t a person, it’s an event. When you try something, something new and exciting, you’ll experience something that you never felt before and possibly build something that you never thought was possible. If you fail by doing that, it usually means lessons learned and building blocks acquired for your next project. The path to success is rarely a straight line.

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of a greater or equal benefit.

nAPOLEON HILLAmerican author

So, how do we define success? It means different things to different people. In Infobip, we measure it by how much you’ve grown, both professionally and personally. Usually, growth comes from that fear and adaptation that you face when taken out of your comfort zone, when you’re trying new things. What are you good at? How did you find out? Doing the same old things and sticking to what you know is a safe journey, but it rarely leads to major breakthroughs. It’s only natural to have an occasional hiccup, a dead end, a wrong turn, a misplaced idea. But when you do hit, you’ll hit big, you succeed. And you’ll have earned it.

Dealing with failure as a collective

When you become part of a corporation or create your own startup, you'll eventually become part of a collective. You'll meet and hire people you’ll work with and interact with. If you’re lucky, they will be the people you share experiences with, people you like and value. Really, it’s all time consuming, it costs the company, but it’s essential in our story of success and failure.

In the end, those people are the company. But what happens when those people fail? Do they just give up? Do you? Do they just hope for the best or find a scape goat? If you found the right people, if you’re one of them, then no. You’ll find a way to learn from it, cope with it and fix it. Best of all, the experience will only make the bond between you stronger.

If you’re running a good team, your motto should be:

​It’s on you to try, it’s on me to let you. If I let you, it means I trust you. I trust you not to become mediocre. If we fail, we do it together, but if we don’t learn from it, we didn’t deserve the experience. We didn’t earn to be where we are. If we do, we’re in the right place, and the right time is just around the corner.

Fail often, fail hard. Fail so you can generate the next generation of failures, the next generation of leaders who aren’t afraid to try. Make them understand that it’s not about the destination as the journey itself. All the pitfalls, the wrong turns and failures you’ll face along the way are as much a part of success as success itself. Without them, enjoying your victories wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet.

By Ognjen Ribicic, Software Engineer