“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
- Thomas Edison
Although at first this may seem like a depressing task and one that you’d rather not do, it has multiple benefits; it can be motivating, it can help you to analyse the way in which you do things, and most importantly, it can help to inspire creativity.
James Dyson worked his way through 5126 failed prototypes before finding the design that transformed household cleaning.
Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Art.
Walt Disney was told by his former newspaper editor that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Imagine what would have happened if Disney had taken the editors feelings to heart.
Disney himself had this to say on failure:
“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”
Make a list of three to five things you feel you failed at, whether it’s a creative project or something else in your life (e.g., an exam, your career, a relationship, etc.).
Now try and think about why the outcome was the way it was. Was it a lack of planning? Money? Time?
Ask yourself if you could do those things again, how would you do them differently?
Extract from the forthcoming book Think It! Make It! by Richard P John