YOLO: Failing at Life

At this year's Baltimore Innovation Week I was invited to speak at #FailFest amongst a handful of other excellent local business people. I have to be honest, I went into it with absolutely nothing in mind to focus my talk on. Staying on topic isn't my strongest attribute anyway, so I figured fuck it! At the very least, I could fail pretty hard on my talk right? Or find magic.

It was interesting to listen to the different perspectives that each of my fellow speaker's talks focused on. They were diverse, they were passionate, and some of them were truly inspiring. Failure is an interesting word in our culture. It occupies a unique space in our collective minds. I don't know if it stems from not wanting to be proven wrong by the Queen or what but we're super aware. 

My journey began in front of a slide that read "YOLO." Typically I wouldn't really use the word yolo. Not because I don't use faddish slang, anyone who reads my blogs knows that's totes not the case, I just think it's kind of dumb. But....in this instance it seemed like the best idea. As a life mantra it's perfect, an internal promise that if there is pain to come it won't last forever. 

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Albright

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Albright

Failing in business to me doesn't necessarily mean I sank the battleship; although that option is still on the table. In my world I fail almost constantly, I'm failing at life every single day; but it's not what you think. In my world one of the greatest attributes a human can possess (IMO) is humility. When you suffer humility you learn from your experiences. In that light, my greatest moments of failure have lead way to humility which in turn has given me the opportunity to learn something about myself, how others perceive me, and the impact I have on the universe I live in. 

I'm NOT trying to get too hippy dippy with you but ultimately I seek harmony with my environment and see failure as the pruning of dis-harmony. The individual moments that happen along the way enlighten and inspire us to make changes for the better. That statement is as true in business as it is in any other compartment of life, you just need to look for it. 

In the Startup world, the "Fail Fast" slogan gets thrown around as much as the cash does but rarely is it truly internalized by the practitioners sloganeering. Taking "Fail Fast" as a loose suggestion to close the feedback loop, adjust, launch in greater intervals, and reduce stress points early on exclusively loses it's philosophical essence; and the potential for massive insight. 

As an entrepreneur, artist, free thinker, and human being I have a responsibility to grow and get better every single day. Failure and humility are my best assets in accomplishing that goal. 

Check out my #Failfest talk below and a big thanks to Lisa Quigly from RealFlexi for capturing it on Periscope. 

FOLLOW @PatrickRife