Last night I hosted a YPN Test Lab conversation at the Co-lab. Three brave souls come out to join me in a discussion of failure, and how to learn from efforts that didn’t go the way we intended. The small size of the group didn’t keep us from having a rich and varied conversation that touched on learning from failure in a variety of contexts.

The entrepreneur’s mantra of “fail fast” is a close cousin of Samuel Beckett’s advice to writers to “fail better” which has gained popularity in Silicon Valley as well. The advice from the world of engineers is to “file it”. Failure is only the beginning, and what didn’t succeed in one circumstance may provide the right solution to a different problem.

Other nuggets of wisdom included the value of an organizational culture that allows, supports, and values the experience of failure, and the important distinction between thinking “I am failure” and “I had a failure.” This morning I came across a quote from Rebecca Solnit that sums up a lot of our conversation: “Difficulty is always a school. Learning is optional.”

Test Labs happen on the fourth Thursday of the month, 5:30-7pm at the CoLab. They are a program of Jefferson County Chamber's Young Professional's Network, in partnership with the CoLab. They provide an opportunity for informal networking and conversation loosely organized around a monthly theme. Test Labs are open to the public and you are invited to join us.
Rachel Williams is an "as-yet-to-be successful" entrepreneur, a Teaching Fellow in Finance at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and The CoLab's Business Education and Events Coordinator.
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