Growing up, I was a huge perfectionist. I needed to get straight As (because “Bs” on my report card obviously stood for “Blemish”, while “As” stood for “Awesome”). As an adult, I’m much better, but my perfectionism gets the best of me more often than I’d like to admit.
In my current role at a lean startup, I still find myself trying to make sure everything is as perfect as possible. And my perfectionism fuels my hatred of failure. I hate failing. No–really–I f–king hate to fail. There, I said it.
As a failure hater, I usually try my best not to fail. And man, oh man, on the rare occasion that I do fail…? Well, it’s pretty dramatic and goes something like…
“My world is ending. I’m no good. I suck. I’m a terrible person. How could I fail?! I told myself I’d never fail! I’m the most failingest person ever!”
And so on and so forth.
Throw in a couple tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, my favorite pair of pajamas, and a good ol’ Netflix binge and I’ve got a fantastic self-pity party.
I like to think of that as “failing backwards.”
A Shift Within
I recently completed Orbital 1K, a four-week program that teaches you to launch your project and build a community around it. Four weeks isn’t a lot of time to make things “perfect.” As such, I made a lot of sacrifices while going through the program.
At the end of the four weeks, I launched a Kickstarter. It was for an event called The Bold Creative that would bring together stuck creatives who wanted to overcome their creative blocks in a community environment.
Last week, The Bold Creative Kickstarter failed.
Sure, I could sit here and rattle off the statistics of how often Kickstarters fail. I could also analyze exactly why I think mine failed. I could even wax poetic about why failing is good for you, blah, blah, blah. But I’ll leave that to the experts.
I’m writing this because for the first time in my life, I’m failing forward. If you’ve ever failed at anything, you know what I mean.
Even though my Kickstarter failed, I didn’t feel self-pity. I didn’t pout, get upset or feel frustrated. I didn’t doubt my skills as an awesome human being who has a right to be here.
I was able to separate myself from my Kickstarter. In other words, my idea didn’t fail. I didn’t fail. I’m not a failure. My Kickstarter simply failed to reach its goal. The success or failure of my projects is not representative of me as a person.
Amazing considering that I’ve never truly launched something. I would usually find something that “needed to be fixed” before I could launch.
But this time, I launched.
And even though the Kickstarter has failed, I’m going to put on the The Bold Creative event, anyway. I’ve also decided to join a 10-day challenge to launch another product via Gumroad’s Small Product Lab.
Failing forward is all about taking what you need, leaving the rest, and doing what needs to be done, sans whining or complaining.