There is a certain narrative that is prevalent in contemporary startup cultures. Its story goes something along the lines of “failure is good so long as you’re learning from it”. On the surface it suggests speed and adaptiveness: fast-moving iterations driven by a tight feedback loop calibrated to avoid waste (who wants to spend hours building something nobody wants, right?). I’ll be the first to admit: it sounded smart, tenacious and brave.
But this version of failure has a subtle consequence: stagnancy. All of a sudden the act of failing becomes a mundane event, just one of many more to come. Failure loses its power. It strips you of the ability to question the bigger picture. Each time you fail, you are encouraged to take a different angle and try again (until you fail again, rinse, and repeat).
The truth is that real failure hurts. Real failure drives you into a dark corner and forces you to reconsider what you value in life. And then you grow.