Failing Up

Let’s talk about failure.

What are some of your biggest fails?

Maybe a school project that went awry, a bad business decision, or possibly a poor choice you made at your job?

As a society we often glorify successes and tend to gloss over our failures or laugh at them via compilation videos. The truth is we all have those #fails in our lives that have made us who we are today, but we aren’t too keen on sharing with others. Especially in the start-up world where there is a tendency to only hear about the flat-out all-stars who can only win. There’s a real need to hear about the trials, struggles, and fails of similar people who are trying to make their ideas happen.

One of my biggest #fails has to do with a tailgate party at a Braves game. After an organization I’m a part of, HiveATL, completed our crowdfunding campaign last Spring, it was time to make due on our amazing perks. One of those being a star-studded tailgate including the Hive team and Aaron Chewning. It should have been a simple task to get a grill, some burgers, hot dogs, and some drinks to The Ted, but poor delegation on my part led to our team arriving on the day of with:

  • a grill (sans lighter fluid)
  • no foil or cooking spray (which led to..)
  • hamburgers sticking and falling apart*
  • NO hot dogs
  • NO buns

For those of you taking score at home, that means we’re eating Doritos and drinking lukewarm Coke at this point. So it’s a 7th grade youth group party. Awesome. There was some light to the end of the tunnel when I remembered there was a corner store about 2 miles down the street. I walked there just in time to grab the last pack of ‘chicken’ dogs and a loaf of white bread to use in replace of buns.

Let’s pause for a second.

I know some of you might be thinking “oh, that’s not so bad- you could have exploded a car or caught your friend on fire at a tailgate. That would have been a way worse fail.” Wrong. That would require a success in our actually bringing lighter fluid and something with which to ignite it.

This was a disaster.

I couldn’t even bring myself to enjoy the game. I seriously just had to go home and sulk in the awfulness that just happened. Worse: I’m positive the Braves didn’t win the World Series last year due to my massive tailgate fail. I’m really sorry, you guys.

In time, I’ve come to appreciate that disaster as a true learning experience. If it wasn’t for that fail, I wouldn’t have really understood team dynamics, proper communication (read reminding), intentional collaboration, and how to literally just ask for help.

So, because I learned, I failed up. There was so much to learn and I learned the mess out of it.

What about you? What have you ever ‘failed up’ at?

This post was originally posted for HiveATL