Ken Makovsky's superb 'If you've never failed, you've never lived' blog made me think of my own fear of failure and the fear of failure I see in far too many Millennials today.
First, me. Back in 1995, after 15 months of pure hell serving as president of Brouillard Communications, a division of JWT that, mercifully, no longer exists, I was asked to leave. I was devastated. I had just turned 40, was married with two kids, carried two mortgages, leased two cars and provided for two dogs (one of whom happened to be named Pepper).
Despite my previous successes, I was lost at sea as to my next move. I couldn't contemplate another holding company experience and I feared going it alone. Enter Edward Aloysisus Moed from stage left. Equally disgusted by the politics, bureaucracy and parochial culture of the large agency world, Ed had left Brouillard a few weeks before me. He suggested we give it a go on our own. We did. And, I've never looked back.
But, I wouldn't be a success today if I hadn't failed so badly in the past.
Which is why Ken's blog is a MUST READ for those Millennials who have been raised to believe they'll always win. (Note: if you have a chance, also read Ron Alsop's most excellent book, “The Trophy Kids Grow Up”. It nails the sense of entitlement and fear of failure endemic in most Millennials).
I see the fear of failure in my own kids. They're both doing extraordinarily well, but they struggle with adversity. That's because, like most other Boomer parents, we coddled them and, as Alsop's book title suggests, gave them trophies even when they finished dead last.
Failure is important. It paves the way for success, especially for those who are resilient and have the wherewithal to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and say, “OK. I just failed. What did I learn to ensure that I won't fail again?”
Oh, and if you have a chance, doubleclick on the video embedded in Makovsky's blog. I think you'll be surprised to see how many famous people were complete failures before they finally figured out that failure was a pathway to success.