Exploring the ROI on Lessons from Failure vs. Success

Where I am from, we have a saying about the value of failing. Although it doesn’t translate well, it basically means that the tuition of failure has the best return on investment.

I was fortunate to have been born and raised in a very supportive, community-based culture. Friends and family were always around and the atmosphere was always very social. The one thing about my culture is that we are very accepting and non-judgmental of each other.

My parents, in their actions and words, raised me to feel I could do anything and that failure is ok—it’s how you learn. Unfortunately, many people fear failure and, it prevents them from realizing things they only dream about. Perhaps they feel they will be judged by their failures, maybe disappointing people whose opinions they value. Or maybe, they are afraid failing at something will prove to themselves they really are not capable. So, they continue in their lives never experiencing that wonderful highs that follow the lows of failure.

I see failure as a necessary part of the accomplishment and nothing to be afraid of. With that as my mindset, I have been able to accomplish some pretty exciting things. These include:

  • Starting a sandwich delivery service for students as a freshman at the university.
  • Building a media company selling advertising on the back of photo copies and selling that company to a large media firm two years later.
  • Skydiving out of a perfectly good airplane.
  • Creating an e-learning company that later went public.
  • Bungee jumping over Victoria Falls.
  • Developing a micro payment and mobile wallet system for mobile phones.
  • Building a well-respected, data analytics company from scratch.
  • Convincing my wife and two sons to move halfway around the world, from Tel Aviv to Seattle.

Of course each one of these had its own levels of risk, and hence fear, but I accepted that and dealt with it as it came. I took the necessary steps to reduce risks, whether that was through smaller projects or educating myself as much as possible about the subject. I know that doing my homework will give me the best chance for success.

Fortunately, failure is rarely every 100%. There is always some level of success. I encourage you to look at past failures and ask yourself what the successes were. Then, set a new goal, surround yourself with supportive people, and do your homework. To conquer your fear is to be fully alive.

Ultimately, what we regret is not failure, but the failure to act.