Man if there's a word that was prominent in my vocabulary this week it was fail. A week of experiments making new stuff for my jewelry line and none of it worked. I made some resin pendants and they didn't cure (no idea why). I made a few with UV resin and they overcured and shrank and got ruined. I went to route a juice groove into a cutting board for a client and completely destroyed days of work. I made a few more pendants this morning and they didn't work at all.
It's been failure after failure after failure this week, so it was with a great amount of love that Matt, the cohost of the podcast Wealth Power and Influence said the words I needed to hear the most. I'm paraphrasing but he said "It's not failure until you give up and walk away."
That hit me very hard and was exactly what I needed to hear.
I'm not used to continually failing in my maker exploits. Usually a failure for me is a one-off experience that I learn from and move on from and get it right the second time, but not this time. I feel like I'm perpetually learning in an arena I know nothing about and it's frustrating beyond belief. I was not as productive as I've come to expect myself to be this week because everything I did failed.
Or did it?
By Matt's logic, and I'm adopting it because it's genius, I didn't fail because I didn't stop. The "failures" as I refer to them were really just learning what not to do and refining my processes. None of what I did "fail" at this week will be the last step, so in actuality, they're not failures. One example of it would be the pendants from the photo above. They failed; there's no doubt. The resin didn't cure and after 3 days, they're still tacky. It's time to call them a loss and move on. But something else amazing happened this morning: I got the UV resin to work and out of multiple failures came these:
They're perfect and both will be in my store shortly. I used the UV resin, but cured it the minimum amount of time, and they're clear, clean, and perfectly cured. I'm so happy with them that I can't wait to put them up for sale!
It was tempting multiple times this week to abandon resin entirely, but I didn't because I know that's where my next "growth area" in custom pieces is going to be, so I stuck with it and tried over and over building on the prior flops to make something great and I left for work smiling today. A week of self-education bore fruit.
It's very good advice to not dwell on failures, and we've all seen great motivational quotes about failure (my favorite up until Matt was "FAIL = First Attempt In Learning") but for once one of them didn't motivate me to do something, it changed my perception on what I was seeing. I had a pile of failures around me but they weren't failures because they weren't the last step. They were an intermediate step in making better products right the first time.
Next time you fail, remind yourself that your "failure" isn't a failure as long as that fail is followed by a "Now I know, and I'm going to try again but do A differently, or adjust B." If you do that, you didn't fail, you learned, and as long as you're learning and applying what you've learned, you not only didn't fail, but you can't.