Learning and Creativity – the Antidotes to Failure

· Blog

Nelson Mandela once famously said, “I never lose. Either I win or I learn.”

It’s such a great attitude! What if, indeed, we all thought of mistakes or losses as a chance to learn and progress?

Not only can failure be an unsuspected source of learning, but it opens the door to creativity. Create, learn, surpass yourself: these are the watchwords at Capital-Image. By constantly enriching our journey with innovative ideas, we overcome the challenges that cross the paths of ourselves and our clients.

Mistakes do not necessarily mean an end: they can be a springboard to new ways of doing things. Many successful professionals and entrepreneurs have understood this!

Events dedicated to mistakes we make

Conferences and workshops touting winning successes and learnings abound in professional circles. However, life is not all trophies, rewards and good moves.

You may have heard of FailCamp . This counter-event, which brings together speakers from several backgrounds, takes place in various forms, both in Montreal and elsewhere in Canada and the world. At FailCamp, shame in the face of failure is consigned to oblivion. After all, to err is human!

At FailCamp, speakers share their less-good moves, both personally and professionally. The examples they give are evocative: by taking a critical look and de-dramatizing a failure, we can still generate positive roads forward, find unexpected solutions or accept with resilience what happened and then roll up our sleeves and start again.

Events like FailCamp have the mission of encouraging perseverance, an essential quality in life and work.

What if mistakes became the key to success?

Error can and should be an engine of personal and professional growth. The idea is to learn from your mistakes so as not to repeat them, but you can go much further and analyze failure on all fronts. Why didn't it work?

We gain experience even by, or perhaps especially from, making blunders: we learn from them, we start again, we ask for help, we prepare more, we use creativity.

Triumphant stories that began with failures are often evoked by speakers seeking to motivate their audience. These lived experiences are proof that defeat is not an end or a disaster but the way to start moving forward.

An example regularly cited is that of Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple. Fired in 1985 from the company he had created with Steve Wozniak, he returned to lead the company again a decade later when the firm was in a challenging financial position. The rest, as you can look up on your iPhone, is history!

Did you know that James Dyson, the inventor of the revolutionary Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner, designed 5,126 failed prototypes before landing on his fortune-making success? In addition to learning from his mistakes, he was very stubborn!

Failure and success seen under the microscope of scientists

A study published in the journal Nature deals with the dynamics between failure and success. Along with a few colleagues, Dashun Wang, associate professor of management and organization at the Kellogg School, wondered if it was possible to predict long-term success.

That's why Prof. Wang and his associates developed a mathematical model that determines the elements that distinguish successful people from those who just try in vain. Among their conclusions, they realized that one rarely fails once and that although chance can contribute to success, it is not the main explanation.

Indeed, learning plays a key role in the positive outcome of a project or action. On the other hand, they noted that even if a project fails as a whole, some portions can still result in a completely different type of success. Thus, according to their analyses, those who learn more from their mistakes incorporate the experiences of their failures more into their subsequent attempts. In other words, their fiascos still allow them to improve.

Take risks, create, innovate

Creativity is the antithesis of failure. The more you create, the more you train your mind to multiply creative thoughts. Creating is not without risk, and innovation does not always give the expected results, but fear is clearly a hindrance to success. Remember your first experiences on a bike – the falls, the scrapes, the fear of falling again and again. And yet, it’s by taking the risk of getting back on again that one finally masters the art of riding a bicycle, something you then legendarily never forget how to do. This allegory applies to many other activities of personal and professional life; think of typing or using a computer or device.

We rarely go above and beyond by opting for the status quo. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Insecure at first, failure can become a source of inspiration in addition to learning. We have all known someone who has recovered from a downfall and who is now the embodiment of success. By persevering despite the failures, you could well come the next inspiring figure for both your work colleagues and your loved ones!

To conclude: We must allow ourselves the right to make mistakes and learn from ideas, projects and events that have not worked, but also be kind to ourselves and others.

After all, the biggest failure is never trying, right?

Can you recall a mistake that eventually proved to be a real blessing?