I am a recovering perfectionist.

In business, my avoidance of failure often kept me at the stage of research and testing. I would stay stuck in analysis paralysis out of fear of making a mistake.

While I was out there living in “no failure land”, I was also living in “no progress land”.

Success is not perfection, success is made in our failures.

The Museum of Failure

Last year, Samuel West opened the Failure Museum Project in Helsingborg, Sweden

Last year, Samuel West opened the Failure Museum Project in Helsingborg, Sweden

“I’ve noticed how success is always put up on a pedestal, but the failures are always swept under the carpet and you don’t talk about them.” -Samuel West, Innovation Researcher

After 7 years of research finding that 90% of innovation fails, he began to question “Where are these failures, why don’t they get the attention they deserve?”

And The Museum of Failure project was born.

West set himself the task of finding these flopped products. He explains “It’s meant as inspiration. If you understand that in order to innovate you really need to accept failure as an option. When you embrace that, you won’t be a failure at trying new things.”

The museum displays such gems as:

What you were missing from your toothpaste company, Colgate Lasagna

Trump, The Game (if only it was just a game)

Coffee flavored Coca Cola (it’s what’s for breakfast)

Give failure a big ol’ hug

As we learned, 90% percent of innovation fails.

Let me repeat that louder:


“Failure is necessary for innovation , let’s accept failure as an important part of developing something new or innovative.”

By embracing and accepting the small losses, we can avoid the huge catastrophic ones.

It is within this embrace that we learn. It is within those setbacks we get inspiration for the next step.

A catalyst to our progress

It was within these defeats that we learned how to fly planes or how deep we as humans could dive.

Almost all innovations are the result of prior learning from failures.

The founder of the Dyson company is best known for inventing the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner. While developing his vacuum, he went through 5,126 failed prototypes before getting it right and exhausted his savings in the process.

He is now worth an estimated $4.5 billion (yeah with a “B”)

“Innovation requires a mindset that rejects the fear of failure and replaces that fear of failure with the joy of exploration and experimental learning.”- Edward D. Hess, Professor of Business Administration

It’s a mind thing

We learned early on to internalize failure as something negative. This association keeps us playing safe and avoiding trying new things. This fear keeps us from moving. And to change, it takes an approach of active undoing to switch this belief in your brain.

All the greats, all the people and accomplishments you compare yourself to are riddled with missteps and blunders. But it gets swept under the rug so quick that we begin think failing is only for failures.

You will screw up

It’s time to celebrate that our paths are not perfect. It is only in this crisscrossed mess that we push towards the true gold of our achievements. We need to ask “What can I learn?” instead of “How can I avoid this?”

Take the leap knowing that you will screw up.

“There is no undefeated in entrepreneurship” — Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s these botched attempts that will keep you growing, learning, changing and perfecting what you’re doing. The perfection is found through the downfall. You cannot have one without the other. So if you really want to succeed, get out there and run fearless towards your goals!


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