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Confessions of a Failure Phobic

Weiden Kennedy's founder Dan Wieden famously once said, "You're only good to me after you've made three tremendous mistakes."

As a professional, as a father and husband, as a friend, heck… as a man… I confess I hate to fail. Whether it's missing a deadline, forgetting a birthday, or losing a pitch, I want to be right, and I want to win. Who doesn't? It's hard to tell if this is built into our genetic code, or if it's simply a societal pressure. Either way, it sucks when things don't go the way we want them to.

On the eve of some recent failures, it was comforting to find a rather large cache of articles, videos and the like all about the positives of failure. Really? Sounds more like rationalization, I thought. I mean, who really sets out to fail? Ok, probably not many folks, but like many things, maybe it's our perspective that needs changing.

Carmel Hagen at 99% by Behance did a nice job of compiling "9 Reasons Why Failure is Not Fatal." http://bit.ly/pRe3Z2 Here, slouches like James Dyson (Dyson Vacuums), JK Rowling, Seth Godin and Gillian Welch (just to name a few,) spent some time commenting on subject.  The authors postulate that learning how to embrace failure, not being afraid to be wrong, and learning how to "roll with the punches" actually produces not only wisdom and patience, but also allows us to often learn more from our losses than from our successes.

In an agency, creativity and innovation are not just buzzwords, but actual valuable assets to our business. Regardless of where you work, or how accepting the culture of your company is (RT is a great place to work by the way). I believe much of our motivation in life is about gaining personal fulfillment through approval and success. It's not so astonishing then that many of us over time wrestle subconsciously with wanting to stay safe, rather than being courageous enough to fail. If you are someone who's ever created anything (art work, a proposal, a script, a powerpoint presentation, a frigging excel spreadsheet) you know that often you go through a series of beat downs to come up with a winner.

What kind of bosses, employees, parents, clients, and all around people would we be if we really were not afraid of what other people thought? What kind of ideas would we concept, or work could we create if we knew that failure was valuable?  Sorry Sheen, but maybe it's not all about WINNING after all.