Another Recommended Read: One entrepreneur on multiple failures and learning to learn: Start-ups are Scary series

Another Recommended Read: One entrepreneur on multiple failures and learning to learn: Start-ups are Scary series

I have been flat out this week and therefore hard pressed to tease out any of my own ideas to put in a blog. Instead I am posting a couple of ‘Recommended Reads’ – blogs that contains links to great articles other people have written.  Enjoy!

This very candid interview of entrepreneur Jono Birkett of Memtell by Rose Powell on the StartUpSmart website caught my eye. As the title suggests, Birkett reveals how he had a few tries to get a venture up and running and reflects on lessons learnt along the way.

Do we talk enough about failure? Do we inhabit a culture that can view failure as a chance for learning and / or a stage our projects might have to work through on their way to realisation? Or do we view failure as something that damns us, that is an indicator of weakness or something shameful.

The spectre of failure surely hovers in the background of any kind of project, especially in its start-up phase. I have been involved in my fair share of failures (and successes!) across creative, community and business orientated projects. It’s certainly no fun to be haunted by the idea of what could have been. And the shame and mortification of being associated with a failure can be toxic in a situation where the difficulties encountered by a project’s team have been handled or communicated badly or accompanied by painful breakdowns in working relationships.

At times I have been involved in what I privately call ‘rescue’ work. This is where I have been employed to fix up a project or program that has gone off the rails. Sometimes I have been able to make a difference, and sometimes, sadly, not. This is difficult work, sometimes draining and disappointing and sometimes extremely rewarding. But it is a wonderful learning experience and, I must admit, quite fascinating. I actually enjoy trying to track the underlying causes of problems and love it when I can help a project team come up with some great strategies to help the project get back on track.

So I am impressed by Birkett’s willingness to reflect on and share what he has learnt. A willingness to talk about failures and problems, a willingness to step away from the need to always look like a winner or an expert, could be an adjunct to our business culture. Reflecting on our failures can teach us so much, and sharing our insights puts us in the position of supporting and empowering others.

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