Not Every Failure Is A Learning Experience

Many entrepreneurs and investors – especially in Silicon Valley – believe that failure is acceptable. Mark Suster writes:

I prefer second time (or more) entrepreneurs.  Sure, I would love to work with people who have had multiple successes.  But I’m not afraid of entrepreneurs that didn’t succeed the first time.  I want to work with talented people with good judgment.  And so I’m out to spread the word, “Good Judgment Comes from Experience, but Experience Comes from Bad Judgment.”  Go out and learn.

There’s a big difference, however, between failing while giving your very best, and failing for the sake of failing.

I discuss this difference in the following short video.

Do you agree?


  1. Great post

    37 signals have a great related take on this also – (think there is a spot in their latest book) The basic premise being that “learning from failure may tell you what not to do the next time, but that doesn’t tell you what to do next time”. So relying on failure to learn means you have to go through a myriad of possibilities and failures until you find something that works. One success gives you instant info on the likely success or otherwise of a decision.

  2. Fergus – it’s a balance. The distinction – and I think that the 37signals folks would tend to agree – is failure just to fail and failure while giving a 100% effort are two very different outcomes. Failure while giving a 100% effort can provide many meaningful learning opportunities. Failing merely to fail (the common mantra of many young entrepreneurs who think that any failure = learning) rarely provides meaningful insights.

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