The Power of 3

lightbulbLook around you and listen closely. Every day, it seems we will see and hear binary words such as short and long, big and small, success or failure.

Success and failure are perhaps the most loaded words of all. These words, these constructs, are simply places along a continuum, reminders or milestones that are part of a process of innovation. Indeed, innovation is an oscillating process between success and failure, planning and prototype, and rethinking and reimagining. Success is virtually impossible without failure.

We often think of success and failure as extremes and opposites—rather than as a healthy continuous biological loop. Innovation requires the courage first to imagine and then to act over and over, because one will fail often, as we did. But the act of failure is temporary, and a natural part of the process of discovery.

True innovators embrace failure and success equally well. They never quit, and they never give up. Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison personified these qualities remarkably well. So as we think of the words we use, encouraging failure is part of the entrepreneur’s journey and every bit as valuable as the end success or product.

When we think of innovation, we often think of our brother, Ed, and our high school wrestling coach, Mark Faller. In the 1970s, Coach Faller encouraged his wrestlers to experiment with different wrestling maneuvers. Some of these maneuvers worked, and some of them didn’t.

Ed had the patience of Job and the persistence of Thomas Edison. Our ever-confident brother tried untested upper-body wrestling maneuver after maneuver. He succeeded spectacularly, and he failed spectacularly, too. Throughout the process, he never lost his nerve or his verve, for that matter.

This combination of patience, persistence, and confidence resulted in many early execution failures that usually left Ed on his back—but only momentarily. His temporary failures informed and better-equipped him to become the purest lower and upper body wrestler of his time. He was dangerous, fun to watch compete, and could pin anyone from anywhere. In fact, he still holds Iowa’s all-time pinning record.

Where have all our Ed Banachs gone?

Ed reminds us that failure is a natural—and often organic—part of any ultimate success. So let’s be confident and willing to fail! Success will follow!