Failing is not the worst thing that can happen

I read Fred Wilson‘s observations nearly everyday. If one reads Fred’s blog because he’s an early investor in such ventures as Twitter and delicious.com, then you don’t know all of what went into making Fred a successful VC.

Today, he writes about an important key to his success: failure.

He quotes President Obama’s back to school speech:

“…you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time…”

Fred writes about his own failed investments and how he had to write off close to 20 investments between late 2000 to 2002.

And then he finishes with something that needs to be read by anyone who thinks “not failing” is how one succeeds:

“I think embracing failure is one of the things that makes this country such a great place to do business in. In many parts of the world, if you fail once, you are done. People won’t touch you with a ten foot pole. But here in the US, it’s almost a badge of honor. And our President explains why.

When we met with entrepreneurs, I’m always interested in their failures. And most people have them, you just have to dig a bit to find them. If someone has failed and taken the time to learn from it, I think that’s a big positive. It makes us even more excited to back them the next time.

So don’t hide your failures. Wear them as a badge of honor. And most of all, learn from them.”

I can think of a lot worse things than failing. Letting a failure define you is worse. Not learning from a failure is worse.

Not ever trying is far, far worse.