One thing that is noticeable about Washington, D.C. metro area culture that is different from the rest of the country is that many people here are completely unfamiliar with the value or normalcy of failure. What this blogger means is that many people in the area are here because they worked on a ‘winning’ political campaign, work for a group that has it together, have inside connections or work for the government. (Notably, government jobs have great stability and are only in peril when the President and Congress get in a power struggle.)
This creates an atmosphere where people tend to take less risks and also are more judgmental when they see failure in business or otherwise. It’s a real drawback culturally – because in other cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston or even Austin people quite simply CANNOT be successful without taking risks. To be successful in business, you have to take risks, be rejected and FAIL on the way to success.
In fact, failure is the first step to success, many companies don’t want to hire people for executive positions who’ve never tried and failed. Why? Well, failure teaches people what not to do in the future sometimes bitterly, sometimes easily, but we all learn from mistakes. And of course there are some events which are not failures but actually catastrophes which are different.
Nothing ventured – nothing gained. You have no shot of winning the girl if you don’t ask her out and you have no shot at a great job if you don’t apply. And you will not have your own business if you never start one. There are a lot of reasons for failure too and they are not all within everyone’s control. It’s complex, but that is life.
It’s better to surround yourself with other people who have an entrepreneurial spirit that says failure is ok and good – it is part of life. And it is wise to avoid people who do not understand or ridicule failure because they have never really tried anything in life or haven’t taken their turn at failure.
Today, this blogger sees failure as a great thing in the larger process especially as so many fields and companies are going through disruptive innovation. You can be afraid or you can view it as a sign of growth.
Deborah K. Corey is a marketing and communications specialist, published writer as well as blogger in the Washington, DC area. You can follow her on Twitter @dkcorey. She is a member of Ladies America.