The Building Blocks of Failure Are Worth Stacking

Failing sucks. But there’s an important difference between identifying the sort of fail which defines an internet meme and those missteps C.S. Lewis once called “the finger posts on the road to achievement”. Those of us in the creative field tend to focus on the pinnacles of success, the moments of eventual accomplishment. But what is all too often imagined as the process of plucking ideas from the great æther and into a fully formulated accomplishment is actually more comparable to the wobbly journey a toddler makes transitioning from crawling to walking: countless hours of failure which test not only the idea to dare to lift ourselves upright, but also the fortitude to complete each unsure step forward after tumbling down onto sodden diapers time after time.

“Failure is instructional in the process…”

– Diana Laufenberg and the importance of experiential learning at TEDxMidAtlantic

Whether it’s due to fear or pride, the documentation of failure as a roadmap to our success is often erased…but it shouldn’t. These wrong turns should be highlighted. Embracing and owning our failures is recognizing the courageous leaps we’ve attempted into the unknown, the investigation beyond the baseline. Sometimes what is deemed a failure today is actually an idea awaiting the right problem tomorrow, while other times a misstep backwards is a necessity for a great leap forward, illuminating a course of action previously obfuscated by ignorance only revealed after crossing out the wrong turns like a real life, Choose Your Own Adventure.


As a friend once quipped, “I’m happier I tried my first kiss awkwardly rather than kept my lips closed worrying about whether I was going to do it wrong. I’m a great kisser now…and it sure was fun practicing!”

More on failing successfully:
10 Lessons I Learned from A Magnificent Failure
Following Your Bliss, Right Off the Cliff
Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together
Secrets of The Phantom Tollbooth: Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer on Creativity, Anxiety, and Failure