If you’re not failing, if you don’t find you’re doing things where you’re making mistakes, if you don’t find that you’re like the least skilled, least knowledgeable person in the room, if you’re never finding yourself in those kind of situations, you’re not trying. – Ryan Babineaux
NOTE: This is part one of a two part series on the subject of failure. On this episode we talk with Ryan Babineaux the author of “Fail Fast, Fail Often” on the importance of making mistakes and learning from them to discover what works and more importantly – what makes you happy.
What if your biggest mistake is that you’re not making enough mistakes?
I don’t mean in the sense of purposely screwing things up, we are not advocating recklessness nor do we want to glorify failure. We are glorifying effort, risk, courage and for good measure let’s tack on the end of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech
“…and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Ryan has a Ph.D in Educational Psychology from Stanford and an M.Ed in Psychology and Human Development from Harvard. He is the co-creator of the popular Stanford course “Fail Fast, Fail Often,” and in his best selling book of the same name, discovered after working with thousands of people, that those who were successful seemed to have had less fear of mistakes.
They spent less time planning and more time acting.
They got out into the world, tried new things, made mistakes but in doing so, benefited from unexpected experiences and opportunities.
The strategy is to overcome your fear of losing so that you will increase your at-bats for winning by sheer volume of effort and what you learn from that effort. You use that to adjust till you find what works and all the while, gain experience and build resilience.
The whole idea of this kind of idea of failing forward, a phrase that actually comes from the entrepreneurship community is to deliberately use your imperfect efforts as a way to rapidly develop your ideas and expose yourself to unexpected opportunities – Ryan Babineaux
Losing to win
I love tennis. I love playing it, watching it, everything about it. But for a long time I avoided playing in tennis tournaments. Tournament play was very different than recreational play. I rarely knew knew my opponents and I always felt apprehension.
I was afraid to lose.
Losing in a tournament made it, um, official AND there were spectators. It was an ego thing and it became a self fulfilling prophecy. I did lose. I felt so much pressure that I could hardly breath on the court when I played matches.
Then one day I asked myself “Where is the proof that losing is something to fear? Where’s the connection between my fear and a match loss?” I would say it outloud to myself. I had no answer because there was no connection, it was irrational.
It took the pressure off. I could play a match and losing had nothing to do with my worth or “self” and soon, with some experience under my belt, I started winning. Competing in tournaments is now a pleasure, I look forward to it.
Through tournaments and leagues I’ve made many new friends I would never have met. I even won an entrance into a tourney played in the facilities where the Sony Open in Miami is played ( I lost BTW) but just being there was worth it.
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. — Samuel Beckett
Think of this podcast episode as a course in a specific kind of courage. Ryan encourages people to be brave specifically in regard to mistakes and imperfections. So much emotional energy is wasted in embarrassment or exposure avoidance the work you want to do, never gets done.
Ryan says somewhere on the other side of failure is the success you seek.
The key he says is speed.
Get it on with it. Failure is exacerbated by spending too much time ruminating or dealing with it. Fail fast.
My strategy has always been: Be wrong as fast as we can. Which basically means, we’re gonna screw up, let’s admit that. Let’s not be afraid of that. But let’s do it as fast as we can so we can get to the answer. I won’t get it right first time, but I will get it wrong really soon, really quickly. – Andrew Stanton, director, Pixar Studios
I think you’ll find Ryan’s Fail Fast approach a simple but profound path to change your life through small, immediate acts of bravery. When you welcome failure rather than avoid and resist it, you place yourself in front of opportunities to discover, learn, grow and ultimately succeed.
On the podcast we talk about all of this and much more.
Give it a listen.
Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here
Show Notes / Resource Links
[00:04:52] Beer making and finding the work you love t
[00:11:26] How the book came about
[00:15:34] The do it anyway approach
[00:17:21] On the happenstance learning theory
[00:18:37] The problems with career counseling
[00:21:38] On assessments
[00:21:57] On finding what you like
[00:26:10] On the importance of fun and how to use it
[00:31:16] On learning from comedians
[00:33:39] On failing forward
[00:35:23] On making a game of rejection