I have started a lot of projects in the past and many of them either aren’t standing anymore or are owned by other parties. In terms of them becoming huge and garnering me millions of dollars they all would be considered failures, but in terms of walking away and learning something I don’t think I would consider any of them to be a failure. I think that everyone that reads this site has a passion for starting a pet project and I’m sure many of you have done a couple in the past, the problem seems to be that many times we just can’t let go because we don’t want “failures” being associated with us.
Why is it really that hard to let go? I know for me there is always a point where I realize the project isn’t going where I want it to, usually due to the lack of resources I put into it, and I know what it takes to get it back on track. However, I just don’t make that push, but knowing what you can do to make things better makes it harder to let go.
With a success-to-failure ratio like the one I have why even bother starting these pet projects? It’s that whole “if you have an itch, scratch it” kind of thing. My life is about learning and I can’t learn by simply reading and sitting around. I have to learn by doing and that’s what every one of these projects does for me. They teach me new things that I would never have gained by just reading someone else’s observations. It’s not like starting another blog or simple website is going to put me in financial ruin so there really is nothing holding me back.
You may think that your failures become part of your reputation however and if you want to start future projects with partners people may be a bit hesitant to join up with you due to what they know about your past. In this case, hopefully you do have successes on your record that stand head and shoulders above any failures you may have endured. Look at these “failures” and tell me how much they have tarnished the image of the individuals.
- Seth Godin and Squidoo (many would say it is too early to tell but I have to chalk this one up in the failure category)
- Rick Pitino and the Boston Celtics
- Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints
- Michael Jordan and baseball. Coming back and playing with the Wizards did way more damage to his reputation I believe because at this point he simply couldn’t let things die.
In the big scheme of things your “failures” will only be blips on the radar. Just as you should take as many chances and calculated risks as possible in life, you should also know when it’s time to walk away from something. With that I leave you with these quotes from Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison.
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
Originally posted on May 22, 2006 @ 1:39 am