From Paul Smith at Medium: All start-ups should give themselves permission to fail, but shouldn’t be oblivious to the consequences if they do. Yet the mantras that start-ups should "celebrate failure" and "shouldn’t be afraid to fail" have been taken literally by many.
Failure has somehow become a fashionably acceptable outcome; start-ups can go bust because of dreadful execution or woeful market knowledge, and founders are immediately surrounded by a circle jerk of backslapping.
There is no kudos in getting things so horribly wrong that you took yourself out. Failing should hurt. You should wince, you should cry yourself to sleep after another relentless 20 hour day that went from bad to worse.
Failing will leave bruises, it may scar you like a blade. Your friends and family should be there to support you, but you shouldn’t be mollycoddled, nor should you be told to expect otherwise.
Once you’ve dressed your wounds, you should do everything to learn and recognise why you’re a failure. Accept your mistakes… Run a finger across your scars. Remember the pain of earning them. Then what? To paraphrase a great and entirely fictional man:
"Why do we fail? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
And this is the lesson we should take the time to teach, instead of gamifying failure as an accomplishment well earned. It’s not the act of failing we should celebrate, but our exploitation of the potential it creates. If we don’t build upon the knowledge of why we failed, then all the effort it took to fail is squandered.
If we don’t step up to take another shot then we waste the beating we took, we waste the potential our failure presents.
I appreciate the sentiment of the mantras, but we’ve lost our way amidst celebrations of mediocrity.