Why failure is essential for creativity

Creativity plays a vital part in our lives. Whether we are in a plane 32,000 feet up in the air -and enjoying the luxury of such big creative ideas and innovations – or trying to solve complex problems ourselves. Without creativity we wouldn’t be where we are now. Of course I am stating the obvious, we all now how important it is, especially you guys who have a profound love for design.

But it’s not that easy: being creative is difficult. Frustratingly difficult! Especially when you’re not in the flow and deadlines are approaching (I know…). And to make things worse: trying to create innovation is almost impossible. Sitting behind your desk and stating that today is the day you’re going to be creative will most likely get you nowhere. There’s some good news as well though: creating an environment where innovation can occur will help. There are already numerous studies about creativity and two tips seemed pretty easy to implement: giving room for failure and giving room for the unexpected.

Now, let’s start with the first one. Failure is as much part of the innovation process as succes is. We all know this, but still try to avoid failure as much as we can. Which is -of course- perfectly fine. But when the fear of failure is holding you back, you have a problem. Fear of failure is the nr. 1 killer of creativity. Don’t forget that even the most successful people failed again and again. Michael Jordan summed it up nicely: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

So here’s a fun list for our I’m-a-loser-I’m-getting-nowhere days:

  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.
  • Oprah Winfrey was told she was unfit for tv.
  • Jerry Seinfeld was booed off of the stage during his first performance.
  • Elvis Presley had to hear that he was going nowhere and be better of driving a truck again.
  • Fred Astaire was told that he can’t sing, can’t act and dance a little.

And we can always hold on to Van Gogh: never successful in his life, but bringing in million of dollars now…
We rock!