In life, we are taught to succeed, from acing at Little League to scoring the best career.
Failure is something to be avoided like the plague. Popular culture portrays failures as losers with low self-esteem and zero work ethic–which could not be further from the truth.
Here’s the thing: it’s OK to make mistakes and to fail. Every successful person I’ve met has told me about the many failures in their life–both personal and professional.
I’ve had several failures. My first book was rejected several times and never saw the light of day. I was turned down by almost every university I applied to. I couldn’t make my first marriage work.
Each of these failures became a startling turning point that led me down a new path I couldn’t imagine. If it weren’t for my past failures, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
It’s this reason why John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, sought out people who had failed before. Speaking on Radiate, he said that at one point he was basically looking for people who failed at startups.
“I wanted to start a new business and I didn’t want to teach those people the pitfalls of failure or where the problem is,” he said. “The people who actually have failed before gave us a lot of good insight and experience, and also have the proper attitudes about not thinking everything is smooth sailing.”
Exactly. He was looking for enlightened and experienced people to join his team.
“There’s a lot of times that life is not smooth sailing, I mean, I like to play golf and I equate [failure] to golfing, right? Not every time you play golf the condition is ideal, but you still need to play the game,” he said.
Chen just renewed his contract at BlackBerry after turning around a failing company. He knows a thing or two about hitting a perfect round every now and again.
By Betty LiuHost and editor-at-large, Bloomberg Markets@BettyWLiu