Why the hell are we so resistant to sharing “failure?” I get it that when you’re 20, you need to puff out your chest and impress a potential mate. Got it. But after that, most of our best learnings come from failures. Every unbelievably successful entrepreneur I’ve ever seen has had failures. Yes, sometimes they are small failures and not spectacular explosions, but they are there. Anyone who tells you different is bullshitting you.
In my talks about the power of story with all kinds of business cultures, I always ask; if you only had one type of story to tell, what would it be? Most people say “success” stories. And that’s fine…success stories are great and there are valuable lessons embedded within. But here’s a quick thought experiment for you: what if I walked into the room and told you the “5 greatest hit success stories” of Craig? What would you think about me after about 20 seconds? Jerk. Arrogant ass. And you’d be right. I realize that the converse might also be true. If I walked in and told you the “5 tragic failure stories” of Craig, you would probably think “this guy is a moron!” You might, but you would listen ALL THE WAY THROUGH. And this is not true of success stories, and therein lies the power.
Failure stories are not “look what a moron I am” stories. They are “I made a decision with the information I had at the time, and it didn’t go my way. I learned x, y, and z and now I approach things differently” stories. That’s it. They connect because they carry humility, something that is in scarce supply in a “look at me” world. When you fail, you’ve got a very powerful story. Capture it. Distill it. Tell it.