Study says failure and success go together

Study says failure and success go together

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.”

A lot of us remember that from our childhood, a part of a “proverb” of sorts that elementary students used to hear quite frequently at some point in time, and which came down to the children and grandchildren who had heard it in school.

That came to mind when I saw this article in Scientific American this morning.  The title, Failure  Found to Be an “Essential  Prerequisite” for Success caught my eye.

At its most basic level, the study reported in the article suggests that failing is (or can be) part of success. You have to learn from your mistakes and adapt.

It turns out that trying again and again only works if you learn from your previous failures. The idea is to work smart, not hard. “You have to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then focus on what needs to be improved instead of thrashing around and changing everything,” says Wang. “The people who failed didn’t necessarily work less [than those who succeeded]. They could actually have worked more; it’s just that they made more unnecessary changes.”

Granted, this isn’t public policy specific advice. But I do think it’s relevant to public policy debates. It points to the necessity of not fixating on a single solution to the problem, but rather focusing on solving the problem–sometimes in steps, and sometimes by analyzing what people objected to, and trying something else.

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