The most important advice I could ever give

Fail at something. Fail at everything. Live to fail another day. Fail horribly, and miserably, and comically, and repeatedly, until you could write the book on failure. Because when you can do that, you’ll know exactly how not to fail.

The real learning process pushes people to fail, and fail again. A real education teaches you how to fail. And that’s a very good thing.

You learned to walk by messing it up. It didn’t just happen one wonderful day, when suddenly your growing-up instincts kicked in and you knew how to walk. What you really learned was how to fail miserably at walking, like a babbling little loser. You became a world expert in failing to walk – and by knowing how to mess it up, you knew what not to do next time.

There were only so many ways you could mess it up, and you went through each and every one of them. By failing repeatedly, and failing faster, the only statistical outcome left was wild success.

You learned to talk by mumbling nonsense and drooling all over the place, and being really bad at talking. Hilariously bad. The only reason you can talk, read, write, draw, tell the time, tie a shoelace or add numbers together now is because, at some point in time, you were spectacularly bad at it.

You were an absolute failure at those things, over and over again, just like everyone else. And you kept failing at them until you didn’t fail any more. Maybe it all seems obvious to us, looking back – so why don’t we take the same approach now, when we want to learn new things?

People write themselves off before they even try. Maybe someone’s always dreamt of writing novels, painting pictures or starting their own business*; or maybe mastering a sport or making something from scratch. But they’re just not the creative type, they’ll say. Or what would they know about business. Or, they’re just no good at that stuff.

The truth is: every human being is creative and capable. Everyone is bad at everything, until they’re not.

It’s all about fear of failure. But if we can learn to welcome the failures, and enjoy them – and we may as well, since there’s plenty of failures to come – then there’ll come a day when it’s really hard, or even impossible, to fail at something at all.


*To start a business, know how to serve people by creating something of value. To do more business, serve more people. To turn a profit, simply deliver far more value than the prices you charge.


4 thoughts on “The most important advice I could ever give

  1. So true, you just have to keep reminding yourself that the more crappy writing you do, eventually you will produce something usable, maybe even amazing if you’re lucky

    1. Exactly – even Shakespeare had to be a terrible writer at first. (Just imagine how many lost lines he hated and threw in the fire.) I can’t agree about being lucky, though. The harder you work, the luckier you get! :D

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