Lessons from a failure slut

Tyler HurstBlog12 Comments

There’s shame in failure. Having an idea backfire is embarrassing.

Sometimes, this means you’ll feel like s***. Sometimes, you’ll cry. Sometimes you’ll bury your head so deep no one can get to you.

But failure won’t kill you. It will hurt and it may linger, and you damn well better learn from it. But what about always needing to fail in order to learn a lesson? That seems stupid to me, and I’m the one who does it.

The letter(s)
I wrote an email last week to a fairly tight-knit group of businesspeople and community members. My goal was to point out a few flaws I saw in their system and hopefully fix them. The piece I sent was part rant, part inflammatory and filled with “what the hells.”

It was not well received.

Most of them told me I was wrong, some ridiculed/dismissed me, and some justified their actions. The general consensus seemed that my points may have been valid, but the delivery mechanism was poor and I wasn’t involved with them enough for my opinion to count.

I, before reading Seth Godin’s book, had poked what I thought was the box. I’ve become pretty good at it, after doing the same thing to feminists, Ignite and downtown Phoenix.

And I’ve received nearly the same reaction every time. I was received as antagonistic and received little but defensiveness back. You’d think I’d have learned by now.

Poke The Box
I’m doing it wrong. In Poke the Box, Seth Godin mentions physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who practiced in Hungary during the late 1800s. He was the first person to correctly claim that poor hygiene and specifically lack of hand washing was the cause of significant disease and death.

He died a failure, unpopular and ineffective. Because he was a dick about it.

Hey, that reminds me of…me!

Riding a bike and being an adult
There’s a later story that talks about Godin’s attempt to help a young boy ride a bike. The kid was full of excuses like the bike paths being too far away, none of his friends having bikes, and so on. He was afraid to learn, not wanting to deal with whatever freedoms being able to ride a bike would give him.

I know how he feels. It’s easy to do the poking. It’s easy to want change. It’s harder to deal with the backlash you’ll get if you’re wrong or not well received.

I cried last week after reading some of the responses to my letter. That’s never happened before. I’m not sure if I was disappointed, frustrated or hurt, but it was enough for me to realize that getting poked hurts everyone.

It’s what we do after the poke that matters most.

(I’m a part of the Domino Project Street Team and was given Poke The Box for free. Please join me and other storytellers on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30pm at Gangplank to help plan an event for people who make their living telling stories. I believe Poke the Box is available for a $1 pre-order on the Kindle until midnight on Monday, February 28.)

Tyler HurstLessons from a failure slut

12 Comments on “Lessons from a failure slut”

  1. Chris Lee

    Tyler, you are a good egg. One of the great things about you is that you are not afraid to speak your mind. Way too many people, myself included, moderate too much out of fear of offending. You also care, which is huge. I think that as you make some small tweaks to your approach, you are going to make amazing things happen. Keep on keeping on.

  2. Corey Nagle

    What Chris said. We’ve met once, but I “talk” to you more than some of my “friends” and you’ve never hesitated to help. Even when you’re being a dick, you still inspire [me]. Sometimes the typed word just doesn’t translate well. I’ve been down that road, just to be accused of being bitchy or whiny. Some people don’t want to listen, whether they need to or not.

    1. tdhurst

      True, but every time there’s a problem like this, I’m the antagonistic. Good intentions or not, it’s not like I don’t know who to communicate a point without pissing people off, it’s that I don’t even bother to.

      True about some people not wanting to listen.

      1. Corey Nagle

        That’s how you roll. Who knows, maybe a few days or weeks from now, someone in that bunch may realize you’re right and change for the better. They’ll probably never tell you that, but you would have in fact made a difference. (Pure speculation, I know. But it could happen.)

  3. Ian Alas

    Refreshingly honest and vulnerable. It seems all you have to do is apply your fearless inclination to action toward tact. So go, go, go! I have no doubt that you’ll get there soon enough.

  4. Melissa

    I agree with Chris Lee. You are a good egg, with passion, drive, intelligence, and a big heart (it’s okay, I won’t let everyone know that last part). You don’t have fear! That is one of the things I absolutely love about you (and Chris). I know exactly where I stand with you.
    My only question to you is, what are you going to do now that you “poked?”

  5. Pingback: How soon is now? » Blog Archive » Poke The Box: Win a copy of Seth Godin’s New Book

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