Why do failures generate so much interest? Perhaps as students, we had it pounded into our heads that mistakes are bad – avoid failure at all costs. What can we learn from failure?

  1. First, failure isn’t fatal – not only is failure not fatal but it also is critical to success. What?!? Yes, the only way to innovate is to try new things, which ensures failure somewhere down-the-line.
  2. Leverage failure – If you’re going to fail, don’t hide under a bush! Instead, find out what happened so that you can leverage those lessons in your next attempt.
  3. Ask questions – One of the best ways to discover the “small things” which are the difference between success and failure is to ask questions. Leverage the talent of your team, peers, and experts.
  4. Leverage strengths – It might sound odd to look for strengths in failure but typically something went well, even if the task, project or experiment failed. See if there’s a way to better leverage your strengths.
  5. Look for trends – As Edison failed countless times before his significant success, it is important to look for trends. Is there a trend of what’s working or what’s not working? Anything different or unique from one attempt to the next? Trends can be enlightening.