A smart man learns from his mistakes, a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others. With this in mind, iQ Labs; our team of inventors, hackers, designers, and builders; paid the Fail Better exhibition in Dublin’s Science Gallery a visit last week.
Trinity’s Fail Better exhibition draws attention to the complex relationship we have with failure. While failure has been embraced by much of the entrepreneurial community there is, especially in Europe, still a stigma attached with not succeeding. Quoting the words of Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” the exhibit tries to show that failure is not to be feared, but overcome.
Failure enables us to learn from our mistakes, and when viewed as another step rather than an end, it can give rise to quiet determination; that little voice in your head that whispers ‘tomorrow I will do better’.
Failure can build character; it forces us to approach the future with humility yet with an added motivation to overcome past mistakes. People who are truly passionate and who believe in themselves, and in their creative ideas, will view their failures as milestones to their success. Failure is part of the human experience – to embrace failure is to acknowledge our fallibility, but likewise our capabilities, and the possibilities that are open to us.
So, what’s our conclusion?
As Louise C puts it “the most interesting part for me is the psychological effect of failure – a person’s reaction to perceived failure and the distress it can cause. This is something we must always keep in mind during design. We need to support users and provide feedback where we can so they don’t reach an error or failed state, therefore avoiding any distressing experiences.”
Robert says, “never give up. Try again. The reasons for failure are manifold – eliminate one after the other and improve with every try. The biggest motivational aspect of the exhibition was the mind-shift in thinking about failure – how can there be failure when all there is ‘learning what to do better next time’.”
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to Ela, “it made me think what a failure really is. Can we say that we failed if we tried our best, put our heart and soul into something but we didn’t succeed? Perhaps we already succeeded by taking an action and trying? I don’t have an answer but the exhibition made me think about it. It is an open-ended question if failure is really the opposite of success; in some instances the opposite may be endurance?”
Piers says, “the incubator made from spare car parts, NeoNurture, was the most interesting failure to me. The technology itself worked, but it failed for social reasons, doctors and nurses just didn’t want to use it.”