The road to success runs right through failure. It’s an idea that’s getting a lot of attention lately. Earlier this month, the Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm organized an exhibition around the whole premise that “success never happens without taking risks. And risks are what you’re capable of taking when you overcome the fear of failing.” But how to do that? How to take that leap? The exhibition put that question to artists and thinkers who know success in a very intimate way. (See full list on BrainPickings here.) That includes Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, a book that has sold 65 million copies across 150 countries, and he had this to say:
I’m never paralyzed by my fear of failure… I say “Ok, I’m doing my best… ” And, from the moment that I can say that I’m doing my best … I sit down, I breathe, and I say “I put all of my love into it, I did it with all my heart.” … And whether they like [the book] or not is irrelevant, because I like it. I’m committed to the thing that I did. And so far nobody has criticized or refused it. When you put love and enthusiasm into your work, even if people don’t see it, they know it’s there, that you did this with all of your body and soul, so that is what I encourage you to do.
It’s a good thought, which gets pursued on a parallel track by Tim Harford. In 2005, Harford wrote the bestselling book, The Undercover Economist, and now he returns with Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Speaking yesterday on KQED in San Francisco, the writer, sometimes likened to Malcolm Gladwell, talked about the importance of experimentation, taking calculated risks, and creating room for failure, something that matters as much to individuals as it does to corporations or nations trying to solve difficult problems. You can listen to the full interview here.
Note: You can find some writing by Paulo Coelho in our collection of Free eBooks.