A badge of honor?
Failure has a new color—white. It is no longer the evil antagonist people shied away from. In fact, they now embrace it. Multitudes of success stories built on the debris of multiple failures are a part of business folklore. And it is no longer a Silicon Valley phenomenon. It is accepted across all walks of life, across countries and cultures. There is now a Failure Institute—a first-of-its-kind organization dedicated to studying business failures.
This transformation in perspective has had many positive spin-offs. Entrepreneurship is on the ascent, innovators are emboldened, there is enough capital on the table, and most importantly, it is no longer the end of the road. Second, third, and even fourth chances are now a norm. Our cover story this issue is on failure—how not to fall prey to the victim syndrome, learning from failure, and the need to transform one’s relationship with it. And elsewhere in the issue, Vivek Mehra of Sage Publications writes about the need to build a culture of compassion in organizations. Imagine thriving in a culture that celebrates compassion and failures!
Leticia Gasca, executive director of Failure Institute and co-founder of FuckUp Nights—a platform where individuals can share stories of professional failures—in her TED Talk injects a note of caution. “Every time I listen to Silicon Valley types or students bragging about failing fast… I cringe. Because I think that there is a dark side on the mantra ‘fail fast’. Of course, failing fast is a great way to accelerate learning and avoid wasting time. But I fear that when we present rapid failure to entrepreneurs as their one and only option, we might be promoting laziness… I also fear that the culture of rapid failure could be minimizing the devastating consequences of the failure of a business… For this reason… I want to propose a new mantra: fail mindfully. We must remember that businesses are made of people, businesses are not entities that appear and disappear magically without consequences… But what does it mean to fail mindfully? It means being aware of the impact, of the consequences of the failure of that business. Being aware of the lessons learned. And being aware of the responsibility to share those learnings with the world.” An insight I am sure many of us will mull over.