To Learn You have to Fail


I dislike failure porn. When I fail, I feel horrible. Whenever I fail, I get upset. I become ineffective with the task that I am supposed to do. Failure is everywhere. Life is about failing. However, failure is also the best way to learn. 

“When things are going bad, don’t get all bummed out. Don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. If you can say the word good, guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. And if you’re still breathing, well then hell, you’ve still got some fight left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reengage, and go out on the attack.”

Jocko Willink

To learn a new skill, we have to go through a series of failure. There is no escape from it. We first learn to walk by stumbling and falling on our bottom. As we grow up, we forgot about the lesson of stumbling and falling.  

When I first starting to Data Analytics. I love it. I see that it is my future. I can do simple presentation through Tableau. I think I can make a career out of data analytics. 

After two weeks of fun, I start to hit a wall. I spend hours watching videos that I do not understand. I could not get Tableau to present charts that I want. I compare my dashboard against others in the public domain. My work is like kindergarten work. 

I need to understand the theory behind Data Analytics and functions of Tableau. I feel overwhelmed by its depth. 

I have hit the “Dip”. 

“At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.”

Seth Godin. 

I spend the whole weekend trying to load data into Tableau and to find that I have misunderstood how Tableau load data. The whole weekend is gone and I have nothing to show.  

Such failure is common and there will be more to come. Are you ready for more of the same? I need to be ready to spend hours on something that may yield little or no results. 

I could have taken the easier path. Maybe I should just stay with something that I already know. It feels safer. I have more confidence.

It is through the dip that separates superstars and the rest. Why superstars are rare? It is because they go through the “dip” but also create extraordinary work while the rest has quit. 

How do I survive failure? I choose the next smallest logical step. I focus on that step and do it with my best effort. To focus like a Roman. 

 “Concentrate every minute like a Roman-like a man— on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can— if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centred, irritable. Do you see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”

Marcus Aurelius

I share stories of my failure. I let my audience know that I am like everyone else. I cannot escape failures and mistakes. I have to learn from it. If I fail to learn the lesson, I will keep repeating the failure until I learned or I quit. Quitting is not an option. 

The world is getting competitive by the day, regular job opportunities are getting fewer but opportunities for interesting jobs remain abundant. To stay competitive, I rather face the failure in learning rather than failure in miss opportunities. 

To move forward, we have to accept failure. It is the only way for us to learn. Let the scars on your heart and soul be the signs of victory. Without trying, there is no failure. Without failure, we do not know the taste of victory.  

I am not afraid to fail. I am afraid of quitting when I should have continued in the path.