How Can you Convert Failure into a Learning Experience?


failure (Photo credit: tinou bao)

Converting failure into a learning experience sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  Think again.

Being afraid of failure is a common human trait. For artists, the fear is usually greater as their persona is often embodied in their work for all to see. Although of course that’s not true. What we write, or paint, or sculpt, is not who we are. But it is hard not to take criticism personally. If you are unable to separate criticism of your work from criticism of yourself as a person, then you are in the wrong field.

How do we Develop a Thick Skin?

Your work is not who you are. Your actions are not who you are. But they have consequences, both good and bad. So the important thing to remember is writing a boring book does not make you a boring person. Similarly, doing a stupid think like leaving the car unlocked in a high crime neighborhood, does not make you a stupid person. You might kick yourself for losing the bag you (stupidly) left in the back seat. You are still a smart person who did a stupid thing.

How Can We Learn from our Mistakes?

We can learn from our mistakes by improving the way we write or behave. As in the example above, the chances of you leaving the car unlocked when you lose something valuable is unlikely. With your writing , or painting , or whatever, then you can pick apart what you did, and find a way to do it differently. Which takes us to the next part.

You will only learn from failure if you have an open mind ~ A.K.Andrew

How to Embrace failure.

I love making mistakes in my writing. Every time someone points out something is not working in my novel, then I know that’s a golden opportunity for me to improve what I’m working on. Be grateful when someone points out you did a lousy job, because this is your chance to learn. This is your chance to make things better.

In a recent article in,   Ed Catmull, a cofounder of Pixar, had some great insight on the nature of failure.

We need to think about failure differently. I’m not the first to say that failure, when approached properly, can be an opportunity for growth. But the way most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality). And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough. That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth. To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognize both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth.

Six Guidelines to Embracing Failure

Be open to criticism.

Stop being defensive.

Love and learn from your mistakes.

See every hurdle as an opportunity for learning.

Failure is the road to improvement.

Be adventurous and be prepared to fail.

All those positives are fine in theory, but as Ed Catmull noted, we are human and failure is painful. But remember the resulting growth is worth the pain. Do you want to be adventurous and creative, or play it safe and go with the status quo. It’s your life, and your choice. I choose to fail.

How do you deal with failure? Is it something you dread? Can you see a positive side to failure?

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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5 Reasons to Focus on the Visual Content of Pinterest

English: Red Pinterest logo

If you think those who focus on the visual content of Pinterest are only fashionistas and cuddly kitten lovers, think again. The visual media platform has become so broad in its content and appeal there is literally something for all interests.

But I don’t get it… I admit I was a doubter when I was first invited to Pinterest some months ago. In trying to build an author’s platform I focused my efforts entirely on words with a few images in my weekly blog. Then articles kept coming across my computer on the impact of Pinterest and when I took a second look, it  finally clicked. A few weeks ago I set up my Pinterest page Now I’m hooked.

 A.K.Andrew Pinterest Page

A.K.Andrew Pinterest page


Is Pinterest Coming out of Left Field for you?

Imagine you’re an avid baseball photo collector. Your baseball photo Pinterest “board” might include some photos  you have , and  “re-pins”  of other people’s photos from Pinterest. You now have your own virtual baseball photo collection to look at any time, to share with others and exchange or add images and comments. How cool is that?

English: Retired Player #8

English: Retired Player #8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Can Pinterest work for pleasure and business ? Definitely.

If you’re a baseball photo seller, with Pinterest, you now have a brand new audience who has access to your products. Sports fans love statistics. Make then visual, make then fun.  Infographics are the hottest thing in marketing at the moment, so add  those too.  Check out my infographics “Board” for some examples.



OK. Lets’s get to the nitty gritty –

Five Reasons to Focus on Pinterest

 1. Visually Velocity

Hands up who loved picture books as a child?  Yep, everyone. Adults are no different. We’re naturally drawn to images. In today’s media overload, short attention span society, a picture truly does say more than a 1,000 words.

When we find an image of  something we’re interested in, it grabs our attention immediately. The Pinterest search feature is a snip.  “Pinning” is fun and interactive, and along the way we might just find something  that inspires us to do more in both the virtual and real world. Last week, through Pinterest, I discovered a site that showed me how to transfer photographic images onto wood. Not something I was looking for, but I was jazzed.

Your soul might be enriched by a beautiful image, but for business, education and non-profits, who have used visual aids for eons, they know they can capitalize on people’s intake of information being more easily reached by an image than a few dry paragraphs. Think infographics.

2. Fastest Growing New Kid on The Block

By January 2012, Pinterest became one of the fastest growing websites around, hitting 11.7M unique visitors. Those kind of numbers can’t be ignored by anyone who is trying to get a message, product, thought or vision out there.  A recent study from Shareaholic shows that Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than Google+, Linkedin, and YouTube  combined! Why has it been so successful so quickly? Because of it’s broad appeal in both subject matter and its delivery of information. Visual is key.

Pinterest featue in Metro - 27th February 2012

Pinterest featue in Metro – 27th February 2012 (Photo credit: Great British Chefs)


3. Flexible Imaging –  “Do do …that Voodoo… that You Do So Well…”

Pinterest lends itself to just about anything you want to say, sell, show or share. It’s as effective for an individual wanting to share  photo’s of their Patagonian trip, as it is for a health organization to convey the benefits of walking. Businesses have been using advertising since bartering went out of style, and as we all know first hand, image is key in selling products.

B2B is a fast growing aspect of Pinterest with businesses varying from Manufacturing, to Healthcare, Technology and Software , many of whom use infographics as well as strong visual content.

Want to show the actual product? – go ahead. Want to show how your web-design business will benefit a client? – how better than to show that client how creative you are with your boards. With Pinterest, you  have virtually unlimited space to show yourself off.

Individuals have a myriad of reasons for pinning. For those trying to build a name or brand, what better way for your clients or readers to learn a little more about you, and what you’re interested in personally. People like to know who they’re dealing with.

There are literally millions of new “pins” a week, and “pinners” are having fun. It’s the interactive nature combined with the visual appeal that makes it so successful for both personal and business use. It’s ability as a powerful social media is already established.

 4. Being Sociable with Link Love. 

Each time an image is “re-pinned”, it always links back to the original post, so the interchange of information in terms of people’s website’s is phenomenal. People love link love. It makes one feel good to have an image “liked” or “re-pinned”, or even better being “followed”. People often reciprocate and/or go to your main site. Like bloggers, I’ve found “pinners” to be a friendly bunch. These are people that may never have come across you  any other way.

5. Creative  Curiosity

Whatever your interest, Pinterest helps you think of things in a different way, encouraging you to be creative. How shall I group my images? What shall I call my boards? They can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. Just  express yourself  with the wealth of images easily reached through their search feature for you to play with. I look at what other people do and sometimes think WOW, that’s a great idea – in short Pinterest can be inspiring. Another writer, Priscilla Warner,, has a board called ‘My Dream Writing Studio’s’, which vary from tree houses to a tropical paradise. She heads her board saying ”My Office is my Bed. But I would happily bring my laptop to any of these places…”   I can relate.

Go ahead – explore. Allow yourself to dream.

Pinterest is still by invite only. You can request one directly from Pinterest, but feel free to contact me if you’d like an invite.

If you’re already on Pinterest,  what do you enjoy about it & how do you feel it’s benefited you ? (Do include your Pinterest URL if you’d like people to check out your page.) If you’re not on Pinterest, what is stopping you ? I’ve heard people mention time, but your page can be grown as slowly as you want. What else is stopping you?

I’d love to hear your comments, so come join the discussion.


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