You Can Fail From Anywhere in the World

LED Whale LoveThe Australian “Tall Poppy Syndrome” is powerful and all pervasive. We like people to succeed, but to be grounded. We like people to earn their way but not to be ostentatiously wealthy. And we want our heroes to be likeable – we want them to be the kind of people we would have a beer with.

The only kind of elitism we can stomach is the kind exhibited by high performing sportsmen or women. But even then, it can be a tightrope to walk.

In almost every other field of human endeavour, Australians tend to like our heroes humble, honest and down to earth. This is equally true in the world of startups.

But I wonder … do we also like our failures to be humble? Do we have an ear for their stories? Do we want to hear of the great turnaround – of snatching funding victory from the jaws of startup defeat? Do we only crave the grand stories – or is there something that we can learn from the small failures, the personal catastrophes and business losses? And if so, what do these sound like?

For clearly, it’s possible to fail from anywhere in the world.

The folks on the Attendly blog have captured a series of Stories of Failure and Redemption. And while I was reading I was struck by the other worldliness of the stories. They seemed out of context. Out of reach.

And then about halfway through I came across this:

OVERVIEW

mmMule is a social travel network connecting locals who want stuff with travelers who can deliver it. In return for delivery travelers are rewarded with fun, local travel experiences.

FAILURE

Avis Mulhall – Co-founder of mmMule

Our biggest failure was a near-death experience. Shortly after arriving in Sydney and during the creation of mmMule, I became seriously ill. So ill in fact that I nearly died – enduring four months in hospital, 3 major surgeries and even now I have an ongoing battle with Crohn’s disease.

At some point we really felt that it could be the end of the road for mmMule, things seemed really dark. But throughout everything, I had a single-minded vision – you could call it blind faith or you could call it stupidity – all I knew was that this was going to happen, that despite everything, we’d pull it off and get to launch.

You can read the full article on the site – and learn more about Avis’ unique story of failure and redemption. But the most exciting aspect was to read a local tale. To know that you don’t need to travel to #flearn. And that such opportunities exist right under our noses.

But what about you? What have you flearned? And more importantly, what can you share.

Image: Scott Beale via Compfight

Comments

  1. shandsaker says:

    Nice article Gavin.
     
    I agree that you certainly don’t need to travel to #flearn – in fact of the 18 stories, 7 were actually from Australian startups!  
     
    Interestingly enough, there were some founders in Australia that I asked for stories who said they either:
     
    1.  Didn’t have anything notable enough to share (hard to believe if you are running a startup)
     
    or
     
    2.  Didn’t talk about failure, and preferred to only highlight positives (not healthy IMHO).
     
    Cheers,
    Scott.
     
     

    •  @shandsaker Scott, – point 2 is exactly the issue we are trying to combat.
      Do you think “anonymised” storytelling would work – where you didn’t have to reveal your name or company – just the story of the challenge, the failure, the workaround and the end result?

      • shandsaker says:

         @servantofchaos  Nope.  I think it undermines the story if it is anonymous.  It further stigmatises failure as something to be ashamed of, when instead it is a chance for learning.
         
        I say put your name to the story or don’t bother telling the story 🙂