I've been thinking a lot about Failure of late. Which is to say, I've been thinking of Failure. But I have also started to think about it.
Failure is a word that's overloaded with baggage and I believe it needs to be rebranded.
True Failure can be described closest by borrowing from that wonderfully accurate definition of Insanity: doing the same activity over and over and expecting different results.
Did that design you came up with fail or is it just not optimal? I'm not wearing rose-coloured glasses, a tie-dyed shirt, and flashing a Peace sign when I say that. There's plenty of famous examples and quotes about failure versus “just didn't work.” But those aren't really important if you don't apply that view to your own work.
Stop punishing yourself for trying something that didn't work. Stop punishing others as well. If Science never gives us anything (I mean really, what has Science done for you lately?) it gives us a guide.
Repeat as necessary.
Sure, this makes you say “Well, duh…” while you are reading this, but in practise I bet you, like me, aren't so high and mighty. You say, “Well, dumbass… You fucked up again.”
Well stop it. Only punish yourself if your experiments lead you down the road to Insanity. There's no need to punish if the attempt was unsuccessful.
“Unsuccessful” doesn't have the baggage that Failure carries.
Go be unsuccessful.
Do it a lot.
Learn from it.
And pay no attention to the Fail Early Fail Often shirt that weirdo is wearing.