How you should view the four types of failure.


In designing thinking, failure is feedback. The nature of the feedback helps us understand cause and effect so that we learn the right lessons and take the right corrective action. Within the framework, failure is not the final outcome unless until your stop trying.


Unfortunately, people often associate failure with shame and blame which can also limit how we think, work and live. That type of association makes it really hard on the ego and can also make it hard for those who fail to fully recover. That’s why it’s important to reframe failure.


Four types of failure


According to the Designing your Life framework, there are four types of failure:


1/ Simple Mistakes

Simple mistakes are basically oversights. You know what should happen and typically get it right. For whatever reason, something slipped through the cracks but it won’t happen again. Acknowledge the mistake and move on.


2/ Shortcomings

Shortcomings are mistakes that happen over and over because you’re lacking the right knowledge, skill or experience. Learn whatever you need to so that you do it right next time.


3/ Opportunities

Opportunities for growth have an identifiable cause and available solution. Take your time to understand the problem, research solutions and apply the right one.


4/ Insights

Insights are lessons for real improvement. Take your time to understand what went wrong and what could be done differently next time. Apply your design thinking skills to test your ideas for improvement.


Fatal error is not associated with any type of failure because failure is only fatal when you stop trying. As long as you continue to ideate, test and learn, you’ll continue to progress and eventually achieve your goal.


Use the four types of failure to achieve success.


Progress is everything when you’re breaking the mold of current standards, practices and treatments. You might get knocked down every now and then, but at least you’re in the ring.


“In the ring” is something Brené Brown says to acknowledge people who are giving it their all to change the status quo in a positive way.


So if you have suffered a setback, understand why and what you need to do to stay in the ring.

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