Creating Something for the Sake of Failing It

I was scrolling on LinkedIn the other day and came across a clip of a TED Talk called Why You Should Make Useless Things.

The speaker, a woman named Simone Giertz, announced that instead of trying to build things that succeed, she’s going to build things that fail. She stated:

“… I got interested in building robots, and I wanted to teach myself about hardware. But building things with hardware, especially if you’re teaching yourself, is something that’s really difficult to do. It has a high likelihood of failure and moreover, it has a high likelihood of making you feel stupid. And that was my biggest fear at the time.”

And I just relate so much.

When I go into something knowing absolutely nothing about the subject, I feel stupid and scared.

Scared that people are going to make fun of me.

Scared that I was not going to meet expectations — I still feel that way today.

She continued to say:

“So I came up with a setup that would guarantee success 100 percent of the time. With my setup, it would be nearly impossible to fail. And that was that instead of trying to succeed, I was going to try to build things that would fail.”

And that’s when an epiphany hit me.

How about instead of trying to create something that will succeed, I go into this expecting it to fail?

So that I can remove all the layers of burden and fear of failure and simply enjoy the process.

And maybe, just maybe if it doesn’t end up failing, it can become my success?

I love this next part that Simone said:

“And even though I didn’t realize it at the time, building stupid things was actually quite smart, because as I kept on learning about hardware, for the first time in my life, I did not have to deal with my performance anxiety. And as soon as I removed all pressure and expectations from myself, that pressure quickly got replaced by enthusiasm, and it allowed me to just play.”

Thinking about it this way, I can feel the weight on my shoulder lighten — because instead of pushing myself to get that 100% success rate, I’m going to do it just for the sake of doing it. And when I fail, that’s perfectly okay.

It’s going to be fine.

Ever since I was a college student, I started reading and hearing so much about people’s success that I began to pressure myself to be like them.

I want to build a successful business.

I want to make one million dollars, too.

I want that high-end loft overlooking the city.

When I think about things from this perspective, it just makes sense. I give myself permission to fail. And knowing that I can and am allowed to fail actually makes me feel better.

She said:

“It’s this expression of joy and humility that often gets lost in engineering and for me, it was a way to learn about hardware without having my performance anxiety get in the way.”

And again, I completely agree.

Sometimes, I put too much pressure on myself to do the right thing that I don’t notice the little things that bring me joy.

I understand it’s going to take some time to get used to this idea, but I’m going to take away this message from her TED Talk and start implementing it into my life.

Instead of doing everything right, I’m going to give myself permission to fail and have fun along the way.

I’m moving forward with the expectation that the things I do in life may fail — and that’s okay.

I definitely recommend you check out her TedTalk.

What are you planning to do in 2021? I hope you were able to take away something useful from this article. Please comment down below what your thoughts are because I’d love to know!

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