Epic Fail

leahlwhite —  March 25, 2013 — 5 Comments

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about the value of failure. I could lie and say that I have been thinking about this because of all my projects are going splendidly, with high numbers and lots of happy patrons and librarians participating. But of course, that would be a lie.

I bring up a lot of ideas, on a daily basis. Some work. Some don’t. Receiving accolades from the projects that work feels amazing. I am satisfied that I created something that clicks with my community, and of course, I can share this success with my friends and co-workers. But what about those other ideas? You know, the ones that don’t really pan out? It hurts when we fail but is there anything to take back from it?

To truly be a good leader, you must willing to put yourself out there, and open up to the possibility that some projects just will not work. And here is the most important part: IT IS OKAY. To lead, is to occasionally stumble. It will happen.

If you don’t follow Beck Tench on Facebook, then you really should. She recently posted,

“What if babies were afraid to fail? Let’s go back to the point when we were learning to walk and talk… if we approached the concept of failure in the way we do about our work now, back then, we’d never have learned to do anything at all?! What appalling lie of logic convinces us that there is nothing more to learn about the world? Our communities? Ourselves? A quick tip — if you’ve got it figured out, you aren’t learning anything. Failure is an indicator of learning. It is evidence of growth.”

My favorite part is her quick tip: if you think you have everything figured out? Guess what – you don’t. In order to learn and grow everyday, we must accept our failures – both small and great. It is hard because let’s be honest, we can sit here and talk about how great failing is but when it happens, it hurts SO much. You doubt yourself. But that right there is what makes the experience valuable. Failing keeps you curious and questioning. And makes those successes even more of a win.

Listen to Finn & Jake.



Leah White is a Reader Services Librarian at the Northbrook Public Library and a 2012 Library Journal Mover and Shaker. Books by Leah include The ARRT Popular Fiction List (4th ed.), A Self Evaluative Bibliography for Readers Advisory (Compiled and Published by the Adult Reading Round Table Steering Committee, 2012) and Library Innovation Cookbook, co-edited with Dr. Anthony Molaro (forthcoming). Leah graduated from Dominican University with her Master of Library and Information Science in 2008. She loves comic books, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and other geeky goodness, and you can find her on Twitter: @leahlibrarian or check out her website: http://www.leahlwhite.com/.

5 responses to Epic Fail


    Excellent post! The research on innovation demonstrates that it is important for lots of smaller ideas to be tested and fail in order to create the bigger ideas that will succeed in creating significant positive change. The courage to try and fail is crucial to leadership in all areas of life.

      Larry Oathout April 5, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Twitter started out as a totally different project with a totally different reason for existing. The developers hit a brick wall and instead of just chucking it, went in a different direction. Examine your “failed” idea and look at different possibilities

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