How to think smarter about failure

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  • What does it mean to be a failure? Failing is typically seen as moving in the opposite direction of a specific goal, when in reality, most achievements in history were made possible by a series of non-successes.
  • “The very concepts of success and failure are words that never really meant anything,” says astronomer Michelle Thaller. She and others argue that successes and failures are inextricable linked, and that how we define them for ourselves is what matters.
  • As Ethan Hawke, multidisciplinary filmmaker Karen Palmer, entrepreneurs Steve Case and Tim Ferriss, executive coach Alisa Cohn, and others explain, finding personal success means taking risks, being willing to fail, and recognizing when—and why—things are not working. “Most things will fail, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure,” Steve Case says. “That just means that idea failed. And what can you learn from that idea and then move forward.”

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