“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
–Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
At Kalu Yala the business interns embrace failure with the goal of failing fast and failing often and many of us have never experienced more success and growth in such a short time. Failure is usually defined as falling short of an achievement or not meeting a desired expectation and from a young age many of us are taught to avoid failure at all costs. Failure has become one of the most celebrated activities in the past ten years, with the most epic failures being acclaimed worldwide, mostly through social media, with countless memes and Youtube compilations extolling the consequences of poor decision making. Evidence could be showing that humans are failing more than we ever have before. Yet is anyone learning from this failure?
A new era of entrepreneurship preaches the virtues of embracing failure and fast adaptation, where time and efficiency are maximized, risk and experimentation are guided by scientific methods, and finished projects are replaced by a minimum viable product. Failure has become a key building block in understanding the direction of a product where constant iteration and adaptation has displaced a strict business plan and ignoring interesting variables. The failure revolution has seen business plans go from 50 pages to a 1 page Lean Canvas, presentations have become pitch decks, and if you can’t communicate who you are and what you do in less than 60 seconds you are behind the times. At the worst each failure can point to a way not to do things at its best failure can lead you to take a risk that opens new doors that would not have been available without experimentation. Without failure and accidental discovery the world would be without penicillin, microwave ovens, or Corn Flakes. Next time you have breakfast, reheat that meal, or stave off bacteria, take a moment to bask in the glory of failure.
Kalu Yala has given interns the opportunity to create a sustainable furniture company, develop real estate and venture capital plans, or coordinate a 300 person 5 day jungle event. We have had access to the best resources: The CEO of one of the world’s premier sustainable logging operations, a thought leader for local economic development, a permaculture expert pushing the boundaries of ecological design, and many other creative minds willing to share their knowledge, experience, and failures with us. We control our own destiny and are allowed to fail in spectacular fashion, learning by doing and recalibrating our plans or killing a project and starting over. Failure, confusion, and frustration have led to personal and professional growth as we seek ways to achieve our goals and create value and opportunities for Kalu Yala. Changing the World is not going to be easy and being well versed in failure is going to provide us the skillset to become leaders that have the confidence to make the leap into the unknown, conquer fear, and make our dreams become reality.
I would like to thank Dr. Sean Lux for teaching me Create, Build, Fail, Repeat and to embrace failure.
The Lean Startup: Eric Ries
Business Model Generation: Alexander Osterwalder