The Value of Failure

I am a big fan of the saying:

“Success stories are worthless, its the stories of failure that are valuable”.

I am not sure who said that, and a cursory Google search didn’t bring me an author, but stories of success feel more like humble brags then helpful guidance. With a success story, the lesson appears to be “do what I did, and maybe you can succeed with that too”.

If you want to copy and follow, then this is the type of advice you would seek out, but if you want to innovate and lead it is the stories of failure that should be sought out. With failure, there follows some lesson on why the failure occurred that can be generalized to other scenarios in hopes of avoiding similar failures going forward.

In a way, this is exactly what science is all about. It sounds counterintuitive, but we can never “prove” theories we can only disprove them, and only when evidence becomes significant enough is something accepted as a scientific “fact”.

An example of this to help illustrate the concept put together by Karl Popper, an Austrian-British philosopher, is a theory that all swans are white.

‘All swans are white cannot be proved true by any number of observations of white swan – we might have failed to spot a black swan somewhere – but it can be shown false by a single authentic sighting of a black swan. Scientific theories of this universal form, therefore, can never be conclusively verified, though it may be possible to falsify them.’ .
– Karl Popper

It is with this concept that I will try and post “Failure Posts” in hopes that others will be able to use my failures to avoid making their own, and shape their own theories on ‘thought’.

I was struggling with a simple issue while working on Synapse and I think it was telling, so I will be writing up something on that soon. Stay tuned.