Why We Should Learn to Fail

en in life • 3 min read

It’s simple. Without failing, we cannot learn and prosper.


Longer story: we are afraid to fail. We rather create an excuse (such as saying “I’m not good with numbers” or having a drink before exam and then say “I would do it, but I was drunk…”) instead of simply put as much as possible into a task. And in case of fail, learn from the mistakes. It’s not easy, though. Firstly, we need to fight against expectation. When people expect something from us (even if people mean us), we tend to be afraid (because of possible disappointment).

Also, we need a discipline. A lot of inventions were patented much sooner than there was a functional prototype. A lot of people can bring ideas but it takes a lot of time and a lot of failed attempts to really tackle the problem.

Speaking of the problem, that’s also important. For example, I was working on an app I really needed. It was very easy for me to spent countless hours on it. That app still needs improvements but the problem is not here anymore, so I can be disciplined as much as I want but I will hardly continue.

Maybe with an unlimited time, it would be different. But we don’t have unlimited time. Time is very valuable, and we don’t live long enough to make all mistakes possible. We have to not only learn to fail and learn from our mistakes, but also learn from mistakes of others.

Which is challenging. Not everything on the internet (or even in books) is correct. We have to have a critical mind and at least check if the information or hypothesis makes any sense at all. For example, horoscopes are a perfect example of bad hypothesis because of usage of vague prediction which are valid for the most situations.

Another a great example can be a famous story about bombers from World War 2. Many bombers were shot down. Each damage was reviewed and recorded. The picture was clear—the plane’s wings and body need more of armor, because there were the most recorded holes. But analysis was wrong. Only returned bombers were reviewed. What was missing were holes in the engine or cockpit.

To verify the information or hypothesis, you cannot be in your bubble. Even worse what can happen to anyone of us is cognitive dissonance. People in general tend to reframe new evidence than alter their belief. Trying to explain it differently, justify it or ignore the evidence completely is a sign of cognitive dissonance.


To sum it up, don’t be afraid to fail. Have a critical mind. Verify information outside your bubble. Make good hypothesis. Be ready to fail. Learn from mistakes you do. Also learn from mistakes others did. And if I can recommend something, look into those problems in details. I found them very well described in a book Black Box Thinking. One of the best book I read this year so far! My post is just a brief reminder for me and sneak peek for you. :-)



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