Which is better for your career: never failing, or failing fairly often and using lessons learned to your advantage? The title of this piece likely gives away the answer we favor here. Never failing often means never trying new things, never being innovative and never exploring outside your comfort zone. Looking at failure this way illustrates why failure is actually good for your career.
Let’s face it; intelligent risk-taking is necessary for personal growth and career advancement. True innovation may sometimes involve a leap of faith. However, flat-out, unequivocal, unexpected errors can be a career booster, too.
Here’s why failing can be a good thing:
Behind every great success, is a history of treasured, sometimes spectacular, failures. For example:
Steve Jobs got fired from the company he created, Apple, just after it released the Macintosh and the company was valued at $2 billion. Initially, he was humiliated and at a loss what he could do with his life. But he calls this one of the best things to have ever happened to him. It gave him the freedom to try something new and within 5 years he had started a new venture which would go on to greatness, Pixar.
Diana Nyad, legendary swimmer, failed 4 separate times to swim from Cuba to Florida. On the 5th try, she made history. Prior to her success, she was famous as a failure, as someone who couldn't make it. She recommends always “having the courage to fail.”
J.K. Rowling was an unemployed single parent, writing in coffee shops to enjoy the heated rooms. Despite deep depression, she kept on writing. Harry Potter was rejected by multiple publishers before becoming a literary phenomenon known the world over.
Jack Ma founded Alibaba, the world's largest e-commerce platform. He is now one of the world’s richest people, but was rejected for 30 entry-level jobs after college, including a KFC server, hotel waiter, and police officer. He had failed his college entry exam in China twice, and was later rejected by Harvard ten times. His outlook: you’ll never succeed unless you get used to dealing with failure.
If you’ve made a big mistake or experienced a gigantic fail recently, congratulations! You are in good company. Remember that failure isn't fatal, most of the time. Failure is part of the human condition, and inevitable. Failure can also be a positive and motivational influence in your life. Now—what will you make of it?