Learning From Failure

The delightful Herman Miller blog has an inspiring interview with Sandy Corsillo of Hickoree’s Hard Goods, purveyors of a charming assortment of useful, durable goods like canvas tote bags and sling shots.

I’m inspired by people who fail repeatedly but refuse to give up. For me, the important thing I now understand is that it is highly unlikely an idea that comes from a moment of inspiration will turn into a success. I think this leads a lot of people who could do really great things to get discouraged and give up. Three years ago I was silkscreening on American Apparel t-shirts in my parents’ basement and was convinced I was going to make a ton of money from it. It was a total failure. The designs were good, but so are a million other t-shirt designs.

I realized that something I had worked really hard on and almost staked my future on wasn’t going to work, and I got really discouraged. But from that I was able to see what could be successful from a much better vantage point. So I came up with another plan and when that didn’t work I came up with another and another. Along the way, bits and pieces of the earlier ideas informed the next ones. In other words, the failures made for the success. I talk to people who say, “I wish I had a really good idea like Hickoree’s or The Hill-Side” as if the idea for either came to us in a dream or out of one conversation. That’s not the way it works. So when I hear of success born out of failure I am inspired, it makes me feel like things are possible without relying on a once in a lifetime idea that comes to you out of the blue.