Learning From Failure

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Perception of Failure  

My wife loves puzzles. She loves jigsaw puzzles, math problems and logic problems. We have a bin full of all the puzzle books she has completed. Have you ever thought of the process of solving a puzzle? Have you ever picked up a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, moved it around the puzzle and then placed the piece back on the side of the puzzle and said, “I failed.”? Of course not. You ‘expected’ that there was going to be ‘trial and error’.

In a similar way, whenever something doesn’t pan out the way you expected, don’t think of it as a failure. Rather, think of it as one option that didn’t work, putting you closer to a solution.

Dead Ends are Part of the Cost Towards Opportunity  

To use another puzzle illustration, think back of when you attempted to work your way through a maze. In the Midwest, we have some very large corn mazes. Unless you are one very lucky person, you will likely find yourself in some dead ends. Once you reach a dead end, you turn around and continue to search for the path until your journey reaches your goal.

Recently Shake Shack distributed a simple puzzle using illustrations and numbers which was seemingly a straightforward calculation. Look at the images, assign a value, and calculate a result. I was so secure in my answer as I debated with my business-partner, that I made the ‘$1 bet’. I was wrong, but it wasn’t a failure in my eyes. I gladly payed my $1 as a valuable lesson in yet another way to look at a problem.


I continue to read from many successful individuals who all seem to have similar views of failure. Most of the time it is not really painted in a negative light. Rather, it’s simply part of the process to innovate, build, explore or grow. If you only have a negative view of what failure is, I encourage you to think of the positive aspects of how failure helps you to learn, eliminate bad decisions in the future or to ultimately find the solution. Whatever obstacles, challenges or dead ends are part of your journey, continue to look ahead and achieve what you’ve set out to do.

What do you need to do next? May I help? If so, drop me a note at jschoepke@theappshack.com.

Jason Schoepke