Opinions & Lessons

How to Make Failure Your Faithful Companion : Stories of Rejection and Iteration

By October 13, 2023 No Comments

Innovation in the creative process is like an eye salve, alleviating to an extent the pain of failure and the rigour of iteration.

For most creatives, if not all, innovation fuels progress and transformation like a lifeblood. Artists, writers, designers, or business leaders, can attest to the fact that the creative process is indeed a journey of exploration, experimentation, and transformation. However, as you explore you’ll discover that central to this process is the willingness to embrace failure and iteration.

In this article, we will delve into the importance of these elements within the creative process and how you can maximize this process for your growth.

Failure as a A Catalyst for Creativity

Failure is often seen as a negative outcome, but in the creative process, it’s a pivotal component that propels innovation. Here’s why:

1. Learning Opportunity

When you take risks and venture into uncharted territory, failure is inevitable. The valuable learning opportunity you get from failing offers insights into what doesn’t work, and pushes you to refine and evolve your creative ideas.

2. Breakthroughs from Mistakes

History is replete with stories of celebrated inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs who achieved their greatest successes through their biggest failures. Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Each “failure” was a stepping stone toward the ultimate success of the light bulb.

3. Think Divergence

Failure can be a powerful catalyst for divergent thinking, encouraging you to explore multiple solutions, perspectives, and approaches to a problem. This kind of thinking often leads to innovative breakthroughs.

Iteration For Continuous Improvement

With iteration you can refine and revise your work, based on feedback, experience, and new insights. This is actually the connecting bridge between failure and success in the creative process. Here’s how iteration drives innovation:

1. Refinement of Ideas

Initial concepts are rarely perfect. Through iteration, you can refine your ideas, making them more robust, impactful, and relevant. By revisiting and reworking your work, you ensure that it is the best version of itself.

2. Adaptation to Feedback

Without Feedback, Creativity might seem like a fool’s loop. Through iteration, you can adapt to feedback from peers, mentors, and your audience, making necessary adjustments to cater to your target audience’s needs and desires.

3. Continual Growth

Iteration is a commitment to continuous improvement. Note the word ‘commitment’. By consistently revisiting and revising your work, you ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changing trends and preferences.

Embracing Failure in Practice

Let’s explore some practical instances of how embracing failure can lead to creative breakthroughs.

1. The Story of James Dyson

James Dyson, the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, went through 5,126 failed prototypes before creating a successful one. His relentless attitude toward failure eventually led to the innovation of a household appliance that transformed the cleaning industry.

2. The Beatles and Rejection

The legendary band, The Beatles, faced numerous rejections from record labels before they made it big. They could have been discouraged by their failures, but instead, they persisted, refined their music, and eventually became one of the most iconic bands in history.

3. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers

NASA’s rovers, like Opportunity and Spirit, faced numerous challenges on Mars, including getting stuck in sand and experiencing technical malfunctions. Yet, the spirit of embracing these challenges as learning opportunities led to groundbreaking discoveries on the Red Planet.

Iteration in Action

Now, let’s explore how iteration has been instrumental in several success stories.

1. Apple’s Evolution

Apple’s commitment to iterative design is exemplified by its iPhone series. Each new model builds upon the previous one, incorporating user feedback and technological advancements. It’s through this iterative process that Apple has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation in the tech industry.

2. J.K. Rowling and the “Harry Potter” Series

J.K. Rowling’s path to literary success was not without its challenges. It’s a story we all love to talk about! She received multiple rejection letters from publishers before “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was accepted. Her dedication to her craft eas unwavering and her willingness to iterate on her work turned her into one of the greatest authors of all times authors of our time.

3. The Evolution of Picasso

Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, was known for his willingness to experiment and iterate. His work spanned various artistic periods, from the Blue Period to Cubism. Each of these periods was marked by innovation and iterative development, reflecting his ever-evolving creative process.

Making Failure & Iteration Your Faithful Companion

It is often said that failures are not setbacks but stepping stones to progress, offering invaluable lessons that lead to innovation. Iteration, on the other hand, refines and evolves ideas, ensuring their relevance and effectiveness. So to stay ahead of the curve is to fail and fail again till your idea becomes worth celeberating! This is what creating magic looks like.

In summary, the earlier you agree that the creative process is a tapestry of resilience, courage, and transformation, the easier it becomes to embrace failure and iteration. This is beyond mere strategies, it’s a continuous way of living if you seek to innovate and create in a world filled with challenges and opportunities. These principles have guided Edison, Pixar, da Vinci, Apple, J.K. Rowling, Picasso, James Dyson, The Beatles, and NASA to change the course of human history.

So, dear creative remember this, failure is not a foe but a faithful companion, and iteration is the path to greatness.

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