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Unstructured Ventures did a piece called ‘How to Fail: 25 Secrets Learned Through Failure’ which obviously caught my eye. The 25 secrets cover a wide range of practical and often counter intuitive advice in the context of entrepreneurship which is a classic crucible of embracing failure. My favourites which touched most closely to the theme of ‘failure’ included…

“Learning through experience is far more valuable than learning through planning, prototyping or researching as nothing is more direct, meaningful and visceral than seeing how something works (or doesn’t).”

“14. [Don’t] be stubborn in the face of failure. Instead, be determined in the face of disbelief. The doubters are inevitable and the odds are stacked against entrepreneurs and startups, thus it is crucial to believe in yourself, your company and your solution. Yet that determination can become our biggest weakness when it manifests itself as stubbornness or inflexibility; we can learn more through failures than successes. The difference between determination and stubbornness is the difference between ignoring people and ignoring results. Flexibility is a virtue, not a weakness; error is inevitable, thus accept being wrong and make more mistakes to learn better and faster.”

“17. If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re the fool. If you are indeed the smartest person in the room, then you’ve picked the wrong people to work with. If you’re not the smartest person in the room but think you are, then you’re simply (usually disastrously) wrong. Hire people smarter than you. Work with people smarter than you. Listen to them. Let them lead you. Take the blame for all failures, give away the credit for all successes.”

“18. If everyone takes the same decision using the same information then you’re probably not structuring the choices appropriately. Expose yourself to a more diverse set of opinions and interpretations to re-structure the choices. Differences of opinion are warning signs for decisions; use these warning signals to identify the areas where you need to structure more options in your investment decisions. Since nobody really knows the exact path to success, build flexibility and don’t depend on everything to go right for success.”

“21. Failure is an inevitable by-product of an innovative company, thus it’s important to reward people’s failures along with their successes. Ending a project can be as valuable as pushing forward, since misguided activity wastes resources, time and people’s passion.” 

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