Failure Must Not Be Stigmatized
By Komlan Aloysh
In this meritocratic society of ours, it is difficult to convince people that failure must not be stigmatized. The word failure has never had a good connotation or chance to better be understood. Of course, nobody likes failure; in fact, nobody should, but we need to try to understand how to overcome it, and that would require understanding what is it and de-stigmatize it for the good of society and creativity.
The understanding of failure varies by societies and even regions. In some societies, failure brings unforgettable shame to the family or community; thus, community members, even kids, dare not fail in anything they pursue. They must be perfect in order to avoid “bringing shame” onto their family or community. In this case, however, failure becomes the end of the road for them, and that hinders their sense of innovation or even creativity that requires constant trial and error. That also affects their sense of adaptation to difficult and changing situation.
In other societies, failure is embraced and considered as a way to learn, create, and experience in developing whatever one focuses on or pursues. In other words, it inspires creativity and innovation, and it encourages self-evaluation, adaptation, and constant growth and transformation. In those societies, entrepreneurship and innovation blossom, because society members are allowed to fail and learn their failures.
If we stigmatize failure and understand it as a roadblock, we stifle innovation and creativity in our society. If people cannot, in a slightest way, be allowed to fail and learn from it, we kill dreams that could solve many of our societal problems.
Why is Silicon Valley considered the hub of American entrepreneurship? It is not because of the size of companies created there, nor because it is different in any way from other places. How did technology giants like Steve Jobs and Evan Speigel become so successful despite their many failures? The reason is that failure is not stigmatize and they were willing to start over; failure is considered as an experience to do better. Most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs see failure as an experience to learn great lessons, not a roadblock. You fail the first time or even many times to do better. Failure is part of the process of creativity and innovation.
Why am I so focused on failure? I have come to understand that failure is considered as the end of the road, and unfortunately, many great ideas that could have transformed societies have died on this road. I want to change that. I want to peel off the stigma that perceives failure as a roadblock not as a lesson that must be learnt. I want to let people see failure as an experience, which one can learn from and develop to become even better. Let it be an inspiration, not a roadblock!