What Makes Failures Great Learning Experiences
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In Chapter 5 of 21 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, entrepreneur Audrey Parker notes the tough failures have taught her the most about herself and helped her develop. She recalls a CLEAResult software project where things didn't work out as planned. Deciding to scrap the failure taught Parker and her team about taking responsibility to look for warning signs or problems that lead to something much larger. Parker co-founded CLEAResult.


Erik: Why are failures more meaningful learning experiences than successes? Audrey: Because they hurt a lot more. Failures – the pain, the shame, the hardship, the embarrassment, the guilt, the whatever. Whatever comes along with it, it’s so much more poignant. It sticks in – it sticks in my mind so much more, and I’m grateful for easy learning experiences and I have to say though the hard ones are the most effective. They stick longer, they stick better, and the really tough failures are where I’ve learned the most about myself and really learned how strong I can be and what I’m really made of, and it’s in those tough times that we really – that I’ve really developed, I feel like, so it’s not a fun way to learn but it’s definitely an effective, effective way. Erik: Can you give me an example? Audrey: Well, there was a – there was a project that our company was working on and we all really believed in it, and wanted it to work, and as an organization -- it was a software project -- and we all had such high hopes of it, working, and helping us to track the work that we were doing, and some things went off track, and there were some warning signs, and there were some signals, and a lot of us just, you know, didn’t know to see it at the time, and kind of realizing it, bringing it all to the surface, and then deciding what to do to move on, and that the decision was made to scrap the project and start over, and do a completely new project, and that was a – it was kind of a collective failure but the lesson that was taken from it as a company and as individuals working on it and being involved in it was an important one. Just everybody involved on something, not just the person in charge, everybody has a responsibility to look for warning signs or at least speak up if they see warning signs, or problems, or issues arising, and then working together to solve it or resolve it before it turns into a big problem that’s then unresolvable, so big, big learning.