Is it possible to succeed without failing?
Over a couple of beers, a mound of fried calamari, and a plate of pesto-soaked ravioli, three Fight Club pugilists debated this topic the other night. It stemmed from a preview of our latest bout topic- The Wisdom of Crowds- the idea that the collective intelligence of a group is often more accurate than most or all of its individual members.
In an effort to help his company innovate and better themselves, one pugilist started a Failure Forum in which members could share their failures. The idea being that we all learn from our mistakes and if they all could learn from each others’ mistakes, they would collectively be that much better prepared to move the company forward.
So, in order to be more successful, they would learn from their failures. But, does one necessarily need to fail in order to be successful? This is where the conversation turned…
As we left the restaurant and made our way to the theater to see 3:10 to Yuma (I’d give it 2.5/4, btw) , we debated this. We dizzyingly volleyed theories, claims, and spin, back and forth through the hallways until the darkness and decorum of the theater dictated our silence. However, as the previews wound down, my adversary felt the need to summarize his views (and get in the last word while he could) with a succinct statement:
Success without failure is luck.
I gave this a few minutes thought as the opening credits rolled. Soon, however, Crowe and Bale had swept me back in time and away from my reality. When I came around two hours later, I had completely forgotten about our discussion and went about the next couple days blissfully.
Then, last night, a cryptic email:
What do you think…
What do I think?
Didn’t we come to realize that it doesn’t really matter what I think? Isn’t it more telling to know what we think? After all, that was the impetus for our conversation- the wisdom of crowds.
As such, I created a poll over at SeasonedGamers to find out a group’s view on whether or not failure was necessary for success . I kept the question as unbiased as I could, not giving any indication of my opinion- “Can you have success without failure?”. However, I needed to vote and I didn’t want my vote to show my preference, so I gave my adversary a head-start by submitting a ‘No’ vote.
As of this posting, and even despite my ‘No’ vote, “Yes- Success Exists Without Failure” is enjoying nearly a 2 to 1 advantage. Several respondents have also posted their views on why they chose what they did, and there are some wonderful insights mentioned there- be sure to review them, too.
So, while I could lay out my reasoning here as to why I think success can exist without failure, it is perhaps more telling, authentic and an incredible ironic twist that I can let the masses speak for me…
I feel obligated to clarify that my belief on this matter transcends the inherent relativity that exists between success and failure. Conceptually and definitively (as in, definition) the two require each other, like love and hate. I have to assume our promoted perspectives had accepted this as a certainty, and it’s my understanding that our discussion lies beyond this plane.