[AF] is Awesome Failure

Today I am launching a little side project that all began with a tweet in October: “I want to do a podcast mini-series: conversations with people about failed past projects and reflecting on the lessons learned from them.”

The idea has become a reality. For the month of January, the podcast will be comprised of short interviews with a variety of people discussing personal lessons from failure. Inasmuch as failure has so much to teach us, this is a series that will embrace failure as something to be explored with curiosity — hence the name, Awesome Failure.

Innovation Works — a co-working space for socially minded entrepreneurs and innovators — has come on board as a great partner for the project. Along with Sienna Jae Taylor at Innovation Works, we’ve planned a live ‘finale’ reception for the series on Monday, January 30, at 7:00pm. This event will be a creative evening of reflection, in a very cool, creativity-inducing space. We have collected and collated the big ‘takeaways’ from the podcast, and we are hosting this event to share what we’ve learned/heard through this project. Join us for an hour and a half to contemplate immediate goals, expectations, and aspirations, through the lens of the insight and wisdom curated from our very own community.

I have thoroughly enjoyed putting this series together. Before this project, when I have heard people formally reflect on their failures, it was usually in the context of a keynote address: some highly successful CEO-type person recalling the ‘difficult days’ early in their endeavor. I find it difficult to relate to such stories — mostly because none of my personal failures have been part of long-term, multimillion dollar successes! How do regular, more-or-less ordinary folks like me rebound from mistakes? How do the rest of us learn from our errors?

One of my favorite parts of this project is the kind of questions that have come out of it:

If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

How has failure changed the way you think about or define success?

How have past failures changed your priorities in the present?

What has this experience taught you about your own resilience?

If tenacity is like a muscle, that grows when it is stretched and torn, how are you a stronger person now? If this experience ‘upgraded’ your outlook and abilities, what features have been added to the new version?

How do you think differently about new opportunities now when they arise? What are the first questions you ask?

Knowing what you know now, what are the most important areas to examine in a ‘program evaluation’ for life?

Looking ahead, how do you gauge and define your expectations?

I hope you find this mini-series to be a meaningful opportunity for reflection. If you are in the London region and interested in getting involved, we have one more recording session on Friday, January 13, from 8:30am to 12:30pm.

New episodes will be posted at jamesshelley.com/podcast/awesomefailure

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