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Failure Is An Option

I received an email today that my good friend’s company is shutting down, pulling the plug, closing up shop.

This is something he poured himself into…

Rush prep for impromptu big meetings…

Stressed late night presentation tweaks…

Early morning service calls from the east coast…

Blood. Sweat. Fight. Hustle. Muscle… and now tears, packing up, figuring out how to sell the servers, saying goodbye and good luck to employees. I’m gutted for them.

Another app I enjoyed, Readmill, has this on their homepage today:

Readmill shut down notice

“Readmill has closed. We can’t find this page for you because Readmill has closed. Please read our epilogue to learn more.”

Readmill was a beautifully designed app with a decent community and a good story. Regardless, they had to close up shop and move on.

And one of our recent favorites here at Fizzle, Editorially, has this message on their homepage today:

Unfortunately, it failed to attract enough users to be sustainable. Editorially closed its doors on May 30th, 2014.

Editorially was a useful product, extremely well designed, but what strikes me most is that the people involved were some of my heroes. These are amazing writers/editors like Mandy Brown and sensational designers like Jason Santa Maria and Ethan Marcotte. It’s a team of legends of the internet and yet today the product is retired.

These companies closed up and moved on even with excellent design, writing, team members.

It scares me. If they can fail so can I… and so can you. Failure is an option.

Note: there are reasons why these companies failed. Some ideas are better than others, etc. We can unpack those questions at a later time. For now, stick with me on this.

I was at WDS this past weekend. It’s a conference, lots of people, lots of connections. At every conference I can remember I’ve heard a nugget from someone that’s changed my mindset in some way. Normally it happens in conversations, not in presentations.

This time it was something James Clear said over dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Pok Pok is the gift that keeps giving… i’m still getting some of those chilies out of my system).

Have you heard of this Jim Carrey commencement speech? I’ve heard a bunch about it and hadn’t watched it yet.

James quoted a line from the talk that reverberates in me still (much like the chilies). Jim Carrey was telling the story of his dad, an accountant who could have been a great comedian but went the safe route instead and, several years later, was fired. That’s when Jim said this:


““…you can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.” ~ Jim Carrey”


Ugh… so simple. Failure IS an option, both for jobs/projects/relationships we despise AND for things we love.

See, the stories above about companies closing up — companies I thought were doing a stellar job — terrified me. I think we’re doing a stellar job here at Fizzle. I think so many of you are doing a stellar job. And yet, we are all capable of failing… it’s an option for all of us.

This line from Carrey undercuts that terror. You can fail at a goddam accounting or gardening or house cleaning or cold calling sales position. So why not give something you enjoy a try?

It also undercuts that “ra ra rally caps!” and “failure is NOT an option” bullshit we used to think we needed to be motivated. This is a much deeper motivation… because it’s true.

So here’s my question to you: Failure is an option… for both things you hate and things you enjoy. So why not pursue the latter?

ace ventura spears gif


“Failure is an option… for both things you hate and things you enjoy. So why not pursue the latter?”


Here’s the Jim Carrey commencement speech in its entirety:




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