I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas A. Edison, Inventor

Do you worry about making mistakes and failing at things?

There’s an art to taking risks and the truth is fear of failure can keep you in a rut and get in the way of career success (however you define it).

Fact 1: Human growth and development through life depends on learning.

Fact 2: Making and reflecting on mistakes is an excellent (okay, not always painless!) way to learn.

Looking for proof? Read on. 

Mistakes in science

The history of science is full of persistent attempts at discovery, and accidents that have led to amazing breakthroughs.

For instance, Thomas Edison, inventor of the first commercially viable light bulb, reputedly made 10,00 attempts at this before succeeding.

Here’s a recent example, where a student made an innocent mistake in her work that  resulted in a significant new insight and approach to research on Multiple Sclerosis.

Career failure can lead to success

Success in your chosen career can depend on taking risks and making mistakes that can in turn lead to unexpected leaning   : ) learning, progress and opportunities. In fact, the most interesting career stories of public figures include experiences of taking risks, making mistakes and handling failure. Look closely and you’ll find common themes :

  • trying new things
  • learning from mistakes
  • being resilient, adaptable and persistent when things don’t go to plan.

Consider the potential benefits of risk and failure on your working life.

Find out why October 13th has been declared the International Day for Failure.


Information and ideas courtesy of Helena Martin, Psychologist and La Trobe University Careers and Employability Consultant