Saturday, May 12, 2012

Permission to fail

Newsweek has a great weekly column called "My Favorite Mistake." This one is with Sara Blakely, the woman who invented Spanx (you know, those spandex undergarments designed to keep the jiggles in place.) In it, she describes an embarrassing error during an interview on the BBC - which she apparently handled gracefully. She had been raised to respect the effort she put into an endeavor, not its immediate or ultimate success. As it happened, her mistake opened doors for her, but the reader gets the sense that even if it weren't so, she would have learned from it and moved on.

I was reminded of a quote by Edwin Land, a co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation and inventor of numerous items for the photography industry.
An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.
And one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Billy Joel, said,
Take it from me, you learn more from your accidents than anything you could ever learn at school.
Knowing that failure is part of the creative process doesn't make it any more palatable. Failure is just the side dish, which we can hopefully stomach on our way to the main course.


  1. I'd rather make mistakes and learn than make no choices at all. Cheers, Jeanne.

  2. I'm with you, Dale. The 'putting yourself out there' is tough, but the alternative of an idea or a talent that dies with you is far far worse.

  3. I have a shirt from the magazine "American Songwriter" that says "Don't die with the music still in you." I think that pretty much sums it up! :)

  4. Yes it does, Lena. That's a great quote!