Written by RMI’s MD, Ken Kemp.

“Learning is the only way to turn failure into success.”

The above statement is the introduction to the website for the recently-launched Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden. As it explains:
“The Museum of Failure is a collection of interesting failures. The majority of all innovation projects fail and the museum showcases these failures to provide visitors a fascinating learning experience. The collection consists of over seventy failed products and services from around the world. Every item provides unique insight into the risky business of innovation.”

Apart from the exhibits themselves, they are planning themed events including a ‘Failed Beer Tasting’ and a concert by renowned pianist Per Tengstrand performing some of the less successful music from famous composers. For example, the first versions of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony were far from perfect.

Products featuring in the museum’s exhibits include Harley-Davidson perfume, Kodak digital camera , Sony Betamax and Lego Fibre Optics. Check out http://www.museumoffailure.se/ and, in particular, their media coverage which is quite impressive.

Now it may seem a bit strange to celebrate failure but, after all, where would we be without it? Where would the challenges be? Failure is fine as long as we do something to turn it around into something positive. If you don’t push your boundaries to the extent of reaching the point of failure, how do you know how far you can go? And then, by learning how to solve it, you can deliver a better product, a more innovative service, a faster marathon, an improved sales pitch, a more satisfying relationship, perhaps.

For example, Sandler Training encourages sales people to fail faster. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The faster you fail, the quicker you learn and move forward. It’s the fear of failure that holds us back.

However, I’m not suggesting that all failure is good – it’s only productive if it happens for the right reasons such as trying to innovate or introduce something different into the mix. To quote Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Here’s another quote for you, this time from Bill Gates: “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Reaching the point of failure shakes things up, challenges traditional thinking, breaks new ground. Why do so many people expect new and better results at work when they’re doing the same thing, the same task in the same way? It just doesn’t make sense does it?

Now, of course, I would suggest that training could be one solution – by being introduced to new ideas and techniques by a third party, it can equip and empower you to move on to the stage where you are celebrating success again and again, even if there is a hiccup or two along the way.

Do not be afraid of failure – embrace it, learn from it and move on to achieve great things in your life. Challenge yourself. Move out of your comfort zone into where the magic happens.

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