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  • Writer's pictureShagun Agarwal

Takeaways From The Book – Fail Fast, Fail Often

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing” - George Bernard Shaw

I have summarised below the key takeaways from the book ‘Fail Fast, Fail Often’ by Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz.

1. The experience of failing can be the most rewarding in your life.

The source of our unhappiness is basically a fear of failing. We are simply afraid of trying anything new because we are afraid of failing and making mistakes. Of course, holding back results in a stiff and stagnant life.

The authors say that the times when we grow and accomplish the most are the times when we make the most mistakes. Hence, making mistakes coincides with making personal progress. The more you will fail, the more you will live and the more you will deserve a wonderful life.

Look at the lives of successful people. We always think that their success was easy and didn’t involve many trials and errors. But the truth is that most big successes and accomplishments come out from hundreds of consistent failures.

Think of Starbucks. Starbucks after going through a series of adjustments, experiments, and revisions, has become what it is today.

Think about Walt Disney. One of the twentieth century's most creative geniuses was once sacked from a newspaper because he was told he lacked creativity. Even though Disney, later on, found his way to Hollywood but there also he faced criticism and failure until finally, his first few classic films started to skyrocket in popularity.

Similarly, before starting Hershey's, Milton Hershey established three candy companies but had to watch all of them fail. As a last effort, Hershey established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which quickly became a huge success. Believing in his vision of mass-produced milk chocolate, he eventually formed the Hershey Company and became one of the industry's most well-known names.

But the only difference between these stories and the rest is that they gave themselves permission to fail repeatedly again and again.

Andrew Stanton, the Director of ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Finding Nemo’ says “my strategy has always been: be wrong as fast as we can.” This basically means, we are going to screw up, let’s just 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. You can’t get to adulthood before you go through puberty. I won’t get it right the first time, but I will get it wrong really soon, really quickly.

Once there was a standup comedian who was just standing to do the same professionally in New York City. So, one day he went to a professional and experienced speaker and asked him for some tips and suggestions for starters. Louis CK, an Emmy award-winning comedian replied: I can’t help you at all. The only road to a good show is bad ones. Just go start having a bad time and if you don’t give up you will get better.

No one dies by making mistakes or by doing the wrong things. When people avoid failures, that becomes like a killer. Having fear of failure makes us lose out on opportunities for new growth opportunities. People act in ways that guarantee failure to avoid failures.

2. Those who take action will eventually achieve their goals.

If you feel trapped in a routine that makes you unproductive and unhappy but you can't find the inner strength to break free, you might be having an underlying fear of failure.

Many individuals believe that improving their life involves huge effort and an effective strategy. Wrong! Some people quit smoking after deciding not to buy another pack of cigarettes one day.

Everything comes from our ideas and inner determination. Go for it if you desire something. It's actually quite easy. Still, if you find it difficult to manage everything at once, start with little steps that provide significant results. Continue by changing your perspective, from looking up to the future for prosperity and happiness to finding them in the small things that surround you every day.

3. Divide your goals into smaller objectives to make them more achievable.

Although failure is a common part of the process of evolution, it does not imply that we should fail as often and as unstructured as possible. Prevention is essential, and failing can only become a lesson if you learn how to do it productively by identifying the gaps in your strategy.

4. Start as a beginner.

Have you ever been nervous about taking up a new hobby, such as playing chess or learning to play an instrument? We are often afraid of starting something new since being a novice implies being bad at something in comparison to more experienced people, and we don't want to look bad. This mindset is highly restrictive.

Try to flip it upside down: fear of failure often single-handedly promises failure.

The authors of this book suggest that we must start like a beginner. This attitude brings many new perspectives and not just being competent or incompetent at doing something. Doing things initially like a beginner makes you meet new people, learn new stuff, have new perspectives, and make new memories. The authors urge people to act like beginners who are eager to learn, curious, focus on learning not ultimate performance, and don’t expect perfection from themselves.

The authors also suggest one be always curious. People who expose themselves to their curiosity and act upon that get a wide variety of experiences that lead to new and unexpected outcomes.

Successful people have a knack for performing poorly. They deliberately face challenges to see their limits and knowledge so they can encounter the unknown and learn from the experience. Do something that you have been wanting to do and give yourself permission to perform badly at it. Because, while some things may not work out, you are missing out on unbelievable opportunities by not trying at all.

So the bottom line is nobody enjoys failing. However, fear of failure might keep us from taking advantage of excellent opportunities. Taking risks and learning from our inevitable failures allows us to have much more fulfilling lives.

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