In design circles, iteration is our mantra. Start small, start now, learn as you go. Rinse and repeat. Tis better to start with imperfection than to never start at all. And this thinking often leads to success, so it’s popular for good reason.

But this approach should not be restricted only to the products and experiences we build for others. Indeed, it’s a good approach to life in general.

Failure repeats itself, often

I fail daily. I’d even venture to say hourly. I fail my children by being short tempered at the end of the day. I fail my spouse when I care more about getting time to read that book on my shelf than checking in with her at the end of the week.

And relationships are just one aspect of life. We can fail in our work, with the project that is unsuccessful (or, in many cases, never completed), or the job that didn’t go as planned. We fail when we choose to try something new; no one crafts a masterpiece with a new habit.

But it doesn’t matter. We’re humans … we will hurt others and ourselves. We’ll fall short of our goals. Failure. It’s like death; inevitable. The important question to ask is this:

What are you going to do about it?

Again, we talk about this aplenty in the design industry. Startups pivot, corporations kill planned features, and plenty of designs never see the light of day. With the right mindset, we understand this is a vital part of the process. As Sean Sperte recently stated:

Designing is deciding

Learning requires failure. And I love to learn.

I spent the past week on a workation, spending my days in a cowork space filled with small startups and agencies. The following list is on the wall in the front room:

  • Make
  • Measure
  • Fail
  • Learn
  • Make
  • Fail harder
  • Learn even more
  • Make again
  • Succeed
  • Change everything
  • Repeat

This is my life as a parent, as a spouse. This is your life as a friend, a neighbour, and a coworker. The question is not whether you’ll fall — you will. The question is your attitude after the fall.

Learn, everyday.