Skip links


On failing…

“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”
~John Maxwell

“At Synthesis, the kids who win make more mistakes faster than everyone else. It’s the only way to learn! You’ll need to leave “perfectionism” at the door.”
~Elon Musk’s Kid’s Educational Game System

Does that freak you out?!

It freaks me out.

Failing over and over and over…..don’t we usually try to avoid that? Isn’t that why we try to do our research, come up with a solid plan, count the cost of the project before starting? Isn’t that why we (I) white-knuckle our way through some days, just trying so hard to not mess it all up? Keep it all on the rails?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s also why we quit so quickly. (And I do mean WE.)

What if we increased our tolerance for failure?

What if we didn’t fail our plan, but our plan failed us? We researched, explored, counted, planned…and the plan didn’t work. There were details involved that we didn’t know existed. There were personal tendencies that we didn’t know we had. There were circumstances that we could never have anticipated.

How fascinating! We stepped out and explored. We learned new details about life. Learned things about ourselves. Learned things about others involved. Unearthed errors in the system.

What if we simply course-corrected – took the plan, tweaked it with the new-found information, and pressed on? You can bet that the next time around, that plan will be more rooted in reality. (amiright? Ha!)

If we actually step out and act (fail early) and that process is repeated frequently (fail often), with lessons reflected upon and applied (fail forward) we will win. Failure becomes the path to winning! This concept blows my perfectionist mind, and I am constantly working on it these days, trying to make it part of how I think.

When it comes to the Fruit & Veggie Tales, we have definitely failed early. But in the spirit of failing forward, and making failures a path to winning, here they are in black and white:

  • Discovered that my kids would rather go hungry than eat a vegetable that isn’t on a dinner plate. And they did go hungry. Often.
  • Was asked “Does yogurt count as a fruit?” from a child WAY too old for that question.
  • Resorted to offering cracker-bribes in exchange for eating a fruit at snack time.
  • Was too busy to bring them to the grocery store and involve them in the process.
  • Had to stop my son from jumping on the kitchen scale.
  • One daughter cut her finger pretty badly while attempting to cut fruit.
  • Ditched the entire goal through Thanksgiving week and we all ate cookies and pie and bread-everything instead.

ACT question time:

If failing early and often = progress, then progress made on goal = HIGH.