Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Todd Williams
VP of Technology and Co-founder. Decades of scars from software development and the business surrounding it. Follow @toddewilliams for musings.
I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.
— Thomas Alva Edison

This comes as no surprise, but not every idea will be a winner in the marketplace. We all fail sometimes, for a variety of reasons, some within our control and some not. And it’s common sense to learn from those failures. But within Edison’s guidance is a true gem that might not be as obvious: it’s imperative to also fail fast so that you may then try again (and again, and again).

I’m not saying you should try to fail. Absolutely not — for any idea to have a chance of success you’ll need to fight for it with all the resources you can muster. However, while doing that, as soon as you can determine that failure is the likely outcome of your efforts, you should simply accept the loss and move on. That may sound easy, but it’s not.

We all love our own ideas, if for no other reason than simply because they are ours. Left to our own devices, our natural tendency will be to “go down fighting,” to the last breath and the last dollar. And that kind of blind zeal will ensure that our first failure will also be our last. But if we can force ourselves to recognize failure and accept it early we’ll win in the long run, through preservation of both time and money that we can then invest in making our next idea (or the one after that) a blinding success.

And here’s some good news. Once we do finally celebrate a victory, the many failures along the way suddenly become nothing more than amusing anecdotes we can use to entertain our friends over a beer. His ability to fail fast is why Edison is remembered for successfully creating the incandescent light bulb filament and clever quotes about failure, rather than his many actual failures.

Here’s the way I like to think about it: Success isn’t a destination; it’s a process of iterative improvement driven forward by a series of victories and failures without the loss of enthusiasm. The only fatal failure is giving up.


I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
— Michael Jordan

At Genuitec, we continually deliver insightful blogs on a variety of topics. Our subscription service ensures you’ll never have to miss one.  Why not subscribe today? 

Related Posts

Easily Create Mobile Games with Phaser and Webclip... As a gamer, I love cool graphics and stunning effects on big games and all that a Master Race PC can offer, but sometimes I just want to have some fun playing simple old school games in my phone or browser. You know what I also love? Programming! I always wanted to be able to make my own games but I thought it was too complicated until I found Phas...
What do Programmers Hate Most? I love my job as a programmer, but like most jobs, it can have a downside. Sometimes I really dread having to tell someone what I do for a living. The story I am about to tell you is 100% true.When driving home one night, I was stopped by a police officer. It was just a “routine inspection.” I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in Me...
Top 5 Free In-Browser Games Sometimes you just want to have some fun with your coworkers while you wait for a product build. Or, maybe you just need a moment to relax after a busy week. Taking a break is always well received—maybe you like to chat with coworkers, watch fun videos on YouTube, or scroll in 9GAG. Why not play a game or two? It’s team building I tell you, especia...
Lady Java. Yup, this exists. There's really not much to say... Lady Java?                                                           (ca. 2010) 

Posted on May 25th 2016