Last week I put out a massive call to the blogosphere, asking everyone to publicly share their most spectacular failures. Much to my dismay, failure week failed to live to its name- It wasn’t an epic fail at all! (The irony of which has been pointed out repeatedly throughout the week. #failedatfailweek)
The Twitter stream was buzzing all week long, with daily reports of failures rolling in moments after they happened. There were also 19 unique replies published on other blogs since Monday!
Failure Week did precisely what I had hoped and more. I now believe that if this experiment were repeated on a larger scale, it could result in massive social change.
Below are some observations I made throughout the week.
The celebration of failure in a community results in:
More innovation and productivity
On Tuesday, Eleanor Dowling wrote about her idea of harnessing the global conversation on Twitter to find out what people really think during the 2012 American presidential elections. This is an idea that could radically affect the way humans interact with the political process.
Or it might not work at all. But because Eleanor was working in an environment that celebrated failure, she allowed herself to dream up this idea, share it publicly, and get feedback and support in the way of resources and potential partners.
On a smaller (but no less meaningful) scale, Susannah Dee-Lite overcame her hangups and launched the blog she’d been wanting to start for years.
Oh and lets not forget the 19 blog responses. Writers’ block? resistance? Not any more! Remove the stigma of failing and you destroy the fear that makes it so difficult to ship new ideas out into the world.
More empathy, connection and understanding
In a world where we invest way too much emotional energy in judging others and comparing ourselves to the competition, it was nice to see strangers connecting and cheering each other on. More than a few friendships were born out of this mutual sharing of humanity. We all fail. We’ve all been there.
More overall happiness
Everyone’s moods seemed to be elevated this week. I noticed it in my own life. Just knowing that I could brag about all the little mishaps that happened throughout my day, made my day easier. Everything seemed lighter, the way it does after watching a really good stand-up comic point out the ridiculousness of modern life.
Possible future plans?
This experiment turned into so much more than a survey of successful people and a look at their past failures. More than anything, Failure Celebration Week inspired action.
It also inspired me. My wheels have been turning all week, as I’ve been thinking about ways to enlarge the idea and create something that I believe could have long-term transformative effects on both a personal and societal level.
A round-up of your response posts
- The Art of Audacity: “My Glorious History of Humiliating Failure”
- Adventures in the Raw: “Children Went to Bed Hungry Because of Me”
- Small Things First: “Did you forget to fail?”
- Spatialities: “Happy Failweek!”
- Holli with an i: “Facing Failure and Shooting for the Moon”
- In Space We Trust: “Failures and growth”
- Eleanor K. Dowling: “#Social2011: That’s What I’m Talking About!”
- Catfish Parade: “How to Be a Badass Failure”
- HappenChance: “Lessons From 2 Failed Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Attempts”
- Rena’s Big Dreams: “The Proverbial Banana Peel”
- Lessons in Movement Making: “Fighting the failure of small dreams”
- The Panamericans: “Oxygen is underrated”
- Lex Mosgrove: “Running for the Worst Boss Ever #failweek”
- Enjoy All Things: “Encouraging Failure”
- SweetheartSmartass “The Poetics of Failure and Resilience”
- Bucket360: “My Glorious List of Failures (Or Why I Love Failing)”
- Remarkablogger: “WARNING: Perfectionism will Kill You”
- Seth’s Blog: “How to fail”
- Beyond Norms: “My Biggest Failure”
Thanks to all the wonderful “failures” who participated! #Failweek wouldn’t have worked without your honesty and your courage. We built something here…!
What Observations did You Make During Failure Celebration Week? Do you have any suggestions for morphing this idea into a massive world-changing monster of a project?
Remember, failure is the goal here, so post all of your terrible ideas and we’ll praise the hell out of them!