Fail Faster

Mike Posner started a podcast series this summer and while I enjoy Mike on many levels, his philosophy is probably my favorite. Mike has a fascinating lens by which he sees the world. In this third episode, he takes on the idea of failure that turns into fuel. What is interesting about this is that my friend Justin and I were talking about this yesterday. 

This idea that most people give up because they hang on too long to the "idea" instead of the process. They want to fail slowly and painfully.

In Mike's story if he falls in love with that first song and works on it day and night instead of writing another song - we never get "Cooler Than Me" and he never gets to the next level. But he takes Kanye's feedback and turns it into fuel to keep making art and how gracious was Kanye to give him such useful feedback? This story has so much going on it takes a minute to unpack it. 

As Justin and I spoke, we passed back and forth the idea that in order to get better we need to cut off things that don't work and lean into the things that do. At first glance, this seems simple but most people don't do that, they want it to be easy, they want the first idea to be the best and then they are done. 

But life is much more complicated than that, whether you are making songs, poetry, paintings, blog posts, or products the first idea is never the right one. In my day-to-day, I create campaigns for people in the social media space and without fail when the team launches a campaign it is never perfect the first time - we adjust to the market, the platform, the customers, taking in data to craft the Goldie Locks scenario that marketers strive for. But if the team launched campaigns and never changed our minds - they would never work. 

The team fails fast and iterate to get smarter.  

On Monday night I was giving my students and online exam, they were two hours into a two and half hour exam and the entire network crashed and took their tests with it. I teach in the quad system so I get 7-8 weeks to drive the class home. I now just lost a night and they lost their tests. Here is the thing - I got to watch them work through the problems and answer the questions for nearly two hours.

I saw them do the work.

They knew their stuff and I failed them, the network, and college failed them - so I gave them all full credit. I gave them full credit because I enjoy making decisions more than I enjoy laboring over minutia. I failed and it was time to start over, not pine over the questions I crafted or cry over the work I put in building the test - it broke. We press on and get better. We failed fast together and you should too. 

Eric HultgrenComment