Successful people and companies fail, sometimes miserably.
It's the ability to embrace failure, learn from it and move on that can make the difference in a person's life, career or business, said Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View columnist and author of the new book, "The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success."
McArdle, a Washington, D.C.- based journalist who has worked as a correspondent for The Atlantic, The Economist and Newsweek magazines, will offer her advice at the Central Coast Economic Forecast annual seminar Friday morning.
More than 400 community leaders are expected to attend the event at the Alex Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo. Chris Thornberg, founding principal of Beacon Economics, and Jordan Levine, director of economic research at the Southern California research and consulting firm, will report on national and local economic trends.
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"You're not a failure; you are someone who has failed like every other successful person on the planet," said McArdle, explaining a lesson she wants to impart to those attending Friday's seminar. "Pick a person you admire, and I'm sure there were those dark moments when they were convinced they were losers and would never make it. Those people have gone on to do amazing things."
As individuals and a nation, failure has taken hold to such a degree that it could have serious implications for the next generation, McArdle contends.
"If you look at what's happening in America, company formation is down; people are more risk averse in a lot of ways," McArdle said. One reason, she argues, is that Americans are raising their kids to be more risk averse.
"It's easier to accept failure if you've had failure," she said. "You might think that protecting kids from falling from high jungle gyms makes them less afraid of heights. But the kids who are more afraid are those who have never taken the fall."
In her book, McArdle provides examples of successful companies and professionals, herself among them, who have experienced painful setbacks and lived to tell about them.
Those who rebounded, she said, were not defined by their failure. Rather, they were able to identify mistakes early, resisted the urge to blame someone for their failure, and saw failure as something that could lead to growth and help them overcome tough challenges.
"Everyone makes mistakes. That’s how we learn," McArdle said.