The F-Word and Why You Should Feel Free To Use It.

A few months ago, I introduced one of my least favorite f-words to the 10x Cohort: Fear. Today, I’m bringing out another whopper.


Does it make you cringe? Feel like the end of the world? Like a loser?

A lot of founders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs hate that word—mostly because they don’t use it correctly.

After all, there’s a reason why only a handful of companies make it big, and the rest don’t. It’s because for every one way there is to succeed, there are a hundred ways to fail. Bad ideas, poor execution, poor team chemistry, and not having the courage to try in the first place—all spectacular ways to fall off the radar.

Successful businesses accept failure as a very real option. Jeff Bezos has admitted that Amazon Prime looked horrible on paper, yet he knew they had to try it (things seem to have worked out). Airbnb almost didn’t make it out of bed. Reddit literally “faked it ‘til they made it.”

Trust me. I’ve been there, too. Remind me to tell you about my $20,000 mistake.

As I (and several successful CEOs and founders apparently) see it, failure is only an f-bomb if you don’t experience it and then learn from it. It isn’t a test. It’s a tool. When used appropriately, it can help you learn how to pivot and prioritize. Quickly.

So let’s treat it as a tool.

Think about your last project that didn’t go so hot.

  1. What did I love about it?

  2. What did I learn from it?

  3. If I had to do it all over again, would I?

While the meat of this tool is in the first two questions, the gravy is in #3. Consider your “no” answer carefully; by saying no, you are also saying that the endeavor taught you absolutely nothing—not even the wrong way to do something. It’s a rare failure that doesn’t present you with something you didn’t have before—even if it’s just humility.




We can learn some of our best lessons through failure. Today, embrace the f-word in all its glory. List your biggest Failures and your Favorite lessons learned.


While failure is a useful tool, it’s not the tool I’d choose to run your business. These are.


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