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Why You Sometimes Need to Fail to Succeed

Why You Sometimes Need to Fail to Succeed

Too often, we think of our personal or professional failures as something that will negatively impact us for a long time and others will judge or look down on us for, when in reality, these mistakes and failures are what help us grow.

There's no doubt that nobody likes to find themselves in a situation where you have to admit you have failed or something you have been so enthusiastic about hasn't succeeded as you would have liked it to. As many of you, I do not enjoy this feeling either. However, we can either sit with our head down and drown ourselves in self-imposed pity, or we can pick ourselves up and analyze why we got here in the first place, and more importantly, how to proceed.

Look at the agile concept called "fail fast" used in software development, which, according to Ben Rossi, proposes that if you are to fail, "you want to reduce the time lag in detecting the failure." Even we photographers and some of us who are also business owners, can learn something from this and implement it in the way we operate and deal with failures throughout our journey. 

Reducing the amount of time we spend feeling miserable and overthinking the failure, we can instead use that energy and effort and put it into creating a plan for going forward. For example, if you jumped into commercial photography and it simply wasn't happening for you, instead of feeling disappointed with yourself, whether it was regarding your execution of the jobs or lack of successful leads, you need to ask yourself whether this was truly for you and move on either in a different direction completely or change the way you operate to tackle the main issue of the failure.

Because photography is something that's close to our hearts, it's hard not to feel personally attacked if your photography business is going through a bumpy road or if you have issues with clients. However, at the end of the day, it is a business and as such needs reviewing and analyzing, and it's extremely unlikely that you'll keep running it for years using a cookie-cutter format that never changes. Encountering mistakes and failures is what sets us back initially, but it also gives us a push to rethink our strategies and whether our way is actually the right way. 

Film camera on a table.

Arguably, one could say that if we don't fail, we must be doing everything right. However, the issue is when we have spent years doing something only one way and it's caused us to develop intolerance against innovation and learning new techniques or information. Failing and recognizing that we all make mistakes is what gives us humility and brings us down to earth, widening our views on the business and the people around us. This can only help us build stronger foundations for our business (or hobby) as well as our personalities, because at the end of the day, we're all taking relatively good photographs, but it's our whole ethos as a business and a person that the client will buy into and keep coming back to.

Have you gone through challenging periods in photography that has made you change the way you work?

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3 Comments

majid gharamohamadi's picture

this sentence is a bridge for Success: "Failing and recognizing that we all make mistakes is what gives us humility and brings us down to earth, widening our views on the business and the people around us." very nice and tnx.

Mark Holtze's picture

Failure is also where the lessons are and help us grow. You don’t grow by always getting it right, you can’t learn anything in an echo chamber. Who wants to be perfect at anything, it’s like cheating in a video game...you want the ups and downs, the conflict and the lessons to help grow as both an artist and professional.

It stings like hell, but working through the failures can often end with some amazingly unexpected results. It’s that journey wherein lies the wisdom, and wisdom can’t be taught, it’s leaned through experience.

PS: Nice share ;)