Even If You Don't Succeed, Value The Lesson

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BarnettFailure is a subject that will feature on this blog often simply because the fear of it is a debilitating factor in the pursuit of success. People fear failing so much that they fail to try. The thought of failing incapacitates most of us so much that we don’t realise our true potential.

I have my own fears around failure but I am glad that I still muster the courage to give my best attempt even in the face of what appears to be insurmountable odds. I am saying “what appears to be insurmountable odds” because things are rarely as they seem.

Illusions are a daily part of our existence. Some of the illusions we create on our own, and others are created by people and society around us. Armed with this understanding, you will be able to face your worst fears and give it your best shot as long as there is a chance you will succeed.

The Web Developer Journey and My Failed App Idea

My journey into web design and development had the most bizzare beginnings. I started from selling computers on campus at university in South Africa which led me to discover web design which in turn has led me to venture into web development.

For a long time, I was a web designer; meaning that I could only design websites but apps were a whole strange territory for me. Web design is more concerned with aesthetics while web development is more technical and involves turning ideas into practical software applications. The two disciplines are like adjacent neighbourhoods in a small town. As a web designer I always desired to be able to develop apps.

There was only one thing holding me back from becoming a web developer. The thing holding me back was that I had never done it before; I was inexperienced. It’s a strange paradox because in order to gain experience you have to have done something.

Without realising it, the experience came in the form of an app idea I had whilst in college. The app idea is not so important as it never worked out, once I discovered that the concept was too complex, especially to execute on my own.

Even though the app idea never worked out, it gave me something real to drive my experience. You see, for experience to be valuable it has to feel real to the practitioner. You see, I believed that I was building the next world-changing app and spent every free second I could spare from my studies  working on the idea, and learning in the process. This gave me the invaluable experience to kick-start me into web development even if the app never got deployed for public consumption.

The Lesson Is A Success

When I look back on my inspired app idea and the long hours I spent on it, I am not disappointed that the idea never worked out. In fact I look back fondly upon the time spent in the lab working on an app that never saw the light of day.

Without intending, I had given myself the experience I needed to become a real developer. After all, what is a web developer if he has nothing to show for his efforts? It is interesting to note that wrapped within my failed app were valuable lessons that I needed to progress in a professional capacity.

Perspective is very important. Whether we are talking about our personal or professional lives, there are always lessons packaged within failures. The difference between true success and failure is how we interpret the situation.

All it takes to identify the lesson wrapped within failure, whatever it may be, is a change of perspective. It does take a high level of introspection to look failure in the face and ask, “what valuable lessons can I draw from this?”

Personal Growth From Failure

Going back to my failed app idea, I have seen tremendous personal growth from its pursuit despite the apparent failure. 

I have always been one to see things through but working on the app idea was a personal demonstration of how much commitment I can muster. It helped me realise that I can consistently put in the hours when called to do so.

Through the process of developing the failed app I figured out the workflow for developing apps which I use to this day and continue to refine. I also discovered the tools and frameworks I would need to produce world class apps.

If there is one thing that failure brings to an individual, it is personal growth. At the same time personal growth from failure is not guaranteed because like I mentioned the result depends on perspective. If you focus on the failure, you will fail to see the lesson wrapped within it.

It May Take A While, Value The Lesson

You should also not be discouraged if the lesson does not seem apparent right away. In my experience the lesson is always a part of you and all you have to do is discover or identify it. Sometimes it will take a while for the lesson to surface, don’t lose hope.

However monumental your failure, there is bound to be lessons within it. This is the most important thing to remember. The lesson is the part of the failed experience that you have to treasure and value.

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