The Art of Failure

The team behind make it at your library came together through the ILEAD USA project in 2013. One of the mentors at the program, the marvelous Beck Tench, distilled this bit of wisdom from a group conversation:

Failure doesn't equal "It didn't go perfectly." Repeat to yourself over and over again. 

It's become a bit of a mantra for me. When a program or an initiative doesn't work out, it's easy to take it personally, and hope that those missteps don't become a part of you. Creating an attitude toward new initiatives that includes room for getting it wrong is important. Making sure that you glean some understanding from what didn't work and then creating some theories about why and what you could do differently next time is crucial. (Honestly? They should teach a class on it in library school.)

Wonderfully, that's also what making is about. Learning by doing. No right answers, no wrong answers -- only something that works and functions after trial and error. That's tricky when there are patrons involved -- we don't want to look unprepared. That's trickier still when we have coworkers we want to impress, or at least preserve our dignity in front of -- we don't want to look like idiots. Repeat that mantra to yourself: "Failure doesn't equal it didn't go perfectly." Live it by finding a polite way to say it to stakeholders. Practice and practice again before you take it to patrons. Re-group, and try again.