Texas Tech University

We have been lying to ourselves about failure


September 5, 2016

Quartz - There’s a neat cultural narrative that failure is a stepping-stone to success. You see it in Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” mantra, which implies failure is a necessary learning experience for those who then find success, and among prominent professors who publish CVs of their failures on the way to the top. Though this may be more realistic than pretending impressive people never fail, it’s still overly simplistic.

Costica Bradatan, a philosophy professor at Texas Tech University who's working on a book about failure, says he finds the portrayal of failing as a step or even key to success to be "suspect." This narrative, he says, conceals a fear of failure and refusal to deal with it.

"We have to admit, failure can be an ugly, brutal, profoundly unsettling thing," he tells Quartz. "Facing it requires a certain amount of courage and honesty with oneself. When we experience failure, it makes us question our sense of who we are, our place in the world, everything. Before our failure leads us somewhere else, we have to face it in its own terms, in all its ugliness and devastation, and that's a serious business."

Read the story here.