Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be to Screw Up

December 15th, 2016 Allison Benson O' Brien

Most people are afraid of failure… including those of us who claim we embrace it. This is particularly true in the workplace. No one wants to be a disappointment. And what’s worse than wasting someone’s time and money? So it’s pretty natural to feel that failure is what we call “the absolute worst.”

Well, it’s not. In fact, we owe most, if not all real progress to mistakes. Mistakes and failures expose voids and new opportunities. Of course, that doesn’t make failure an attractive idea for most people. Maybe you’re still too afraid to fail. If you’re one of those people, this one’s for you.

LIST: Why Your New Year’s Resolution Should Be to Screw Up

  • It’s Unavoidable – For starters… no one’s perfect. You’re going to muck something up at some point. At least when you try something new, you know to look at things afterward and ask yourself “what did I muck up?” Basically, it’s going to happen – it’s better for you to accept it, look for it, and embrace it when it does happen.
  • It’s Liberating – When you’re not afraid of failure it allows you much more freedom to try new things. And this is how we grow. Liberating your employees from their fear of failure can help move the company forward. Employees frozen with fear are less productive and create a stagnant culture with crippling long-term effects.
  • It Builds Confidence – Ok, this may be hard to believe at first. But when you learn how to fail and become comfortable failing, you’ll find yourself contributing more ideas and becoming more willing to step outside of your comfort zone. And you’ll have the courage to fight (professionally) for the ideas you really believe in. Sure, it’s possible for you to build this sort of confidence by trying something safe that you know you’ll succeed in. But take it from us… it’ll happen a whole lot faster if you’re willing to let yourself fail.
  • It Builds Stronger Ideas – Failure is often a necessary evil in the creative process. But there’s one critical condition to this statement. You MUST learn something from your failure. Don’t just walk away… ask yourself why did I fail? What just happened? Failing doesn’t always mean you need to come up with an entirely new idea. Think about it. Are you really going to let yourself fail in the same way twice? I certainly hope not. And when you get back up and do it again, you’ll go about it with more knowledge, and your next breakthrough will be a bigger breakthrough.
  • It Improves Resilience & Recovery Time – When you decide to accept your failure and use it to your benefit, you build resilience. For “beginners” this can be difficult, but you must remember that by hanging your head after something doesn’t go according to plan, you’re letting the lesson pass you by. Keep your head up, your eyes open, and look ahead. This will become more natural to you quicker than you might think. And developing this element of your character can translate into other areas of your life in big and beneficial ways.
  • It Builds A Bond – Letting your teammates know that you’re okay with failing, and you’re okay with them failing will help establish trust. Let each other know that if things don’t go as planned, it’s not the end of the world and that you’ll not only sort it out together… you will ultimately arrive at something great together.


Allison Benson O' Brien

Director of Communications at 14 West

“Always look for the opportunity to learn something. Ask ‘why?’ when told 'no'. And stand behind the ideas you believe in.”

I am a Baltimore native with an appetite for travel, and a true glutton for good stories. I use language in all mediums to solve problems, make broken things work again, and deliver results that matter.

What is one thing you do every day? Thank the people that make up my small but mighty team.