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An ode to failure


A few weeks ago, Dutch paper NRC published an article on failing. Journalist Steffi Weber asked a lot of people to share their failures, but only two of them were willing to collaborate. This got me thinking. In this ‘big, bad world’ failure seems to be a taboo and mistakes should preferably stay hidden, locked and guarded by two-headed dragons. But there are people that plea for more openness about the things that didn’t go the way we planned. They even dedicate books and events to the art of failure.

Not only Richard Branson, but young founders and ambitious startups too believe the best way to find out what works in business is to learn the hard way: by failing. Each failure brings them closer to success. You never lose, because you always learn.

With a similar vision on failing, a group of bold thinkers from Mexico founded ‘Fuck-up Nights’ in 2012. (Notice the abbreviation is FUN.) Every month, Fuck-up nights’ gives the stage to bold entrepreneurs who dare to share what went wrong in their business in an open and humoristic atmosphere. The founders of FUN believe speaking about disappointments and ‘almosts’ out loud, connects and inspires us in a deeper way than sharing only polished success stories. And the formula works: in 2017 every continent on earth hosts fuck-up nights.

The Failure Institute, also founded by those bold thinkers from Mexico, insists we should fail in our personal lives too. That’s why they’ve written the FuckUp Book, that instructs you to fail like a pro in hilarious ways. – ‘Sorry I can’t work for this company anymore, because I’ve decided to become a professional pirate.’ – just a random sentence from the book. I hear you think, why should I deliberately make a fool of myself or get rejected?

You’re right, failing is scary. But our demanding stress society has made us so hung up on success, that we’ve forgotten how much we can learn from fucking up. Mistakes make us grow, connect and laugh. They help us stand still for a while and reflect on our situation. Do I need to go left or right? Who can give me good advice? That’s why I plea for more fuckups and I promise to go and fuck up a lot myself. I promise to fail often and fail hard. I promise to share what went wrong and I promise to laugh about it (at least after a while). And I dare you, dear person behind that laptop, to be bold too and inspire others by sharing your story of failure. Don’t be afraid to go left or right, as princess Elsa would say: ‘Let it go, let it gooo!’

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