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Five Reasons Marketers Must Embrace Failure

Margaret-Parham Holt By Margaret-Parham Holt

Like all of us, I learned from a young age to avoid failure. It’s hammered into our heads at home, at school, and in every kind of media. This fear of failure can affect everything we do—sometimes even steering us to avoid challenges, tough assignments, and experiences outside our comfort zones.

But if you look at some of the most successful people in any walk of life, you’ll find that they’re people who fearlessly face failure.

Walt Disney faced failure by starting a commercial arts company at 19 years old, teaching himself animation, and telling stories in ways people had never seen before. And he failed. His company was dissolved. His creations and employees were stolen out from under him. A lot of people would have given up. Walt responded by creating Mickey Mouse.

Sir James Dyson produced 5,127 prototypes to perfect the Dyson bagless vacuum.

Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton failed exponentially more than they succeeded yet proved that it only takes one great success to justify innumerable failures.

In marketing, we’re challenged every day to think outside the box. But if we’re avoiding failure, are we ever truly free to push the boundaries? If we really want to create groundbreaking marketing programs and engaging content, we have to accept that failure is an option.

It’s hard to swallow. But here are five ways failure can bring us to new levels of success:

  1. Failure points the way. Sometimes it takes a cold hard slap in the face to realize that your current plan isn’t working. If we’re open to these realizations of failure, we can use them to figure out our next move. A fresh start, combined with wisdom earned the hard way, can lead to the solution.  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” –Thomas Edison
  1. Failure teaches humility. I love working with people who are willing to admit they were wrong. Having humility makes us better professionals, leaders, and human beings. Humility also reminds us that past success does not guarantee success in the future.
  1. Failure teaches you to stop, listen, and take advice. Whether it is in your personal life or your business life, listening is a key to success. Sometimes when we get on a roll, we tend to think that our way is the highway and everyone should just sit back and enjoy the ride. We’re all guilty of this, but it’s important to listen to what others have to say.
  1. Success becomes sweeter. The true feeling of success is never handed to you on a silver platter; it is earned. When you’ve been in the trenches, tried and failed, and faced setbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel can seem unreachable. But when you finally get there—oh what a feeling. And once you’ve felt that hard-earned exhilaration, the fear of failure is diminished.
  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Kelly Clarkson hit the nail on the head.

While I hope you succeed at everything you do, I also hope that you accept the possibility of failure. It will help you take on bigger challenges, innovate more, and achieve greater accomplishments.

Just remember, failure is Brave.