8 TED Talks that Help Us Embrace the Epic Fail

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” – Thomas Watson

As we close out another year, it’s good to be reminded that failure, shame, and rejection are all necessary parts of a path to a successful life.

In her 2012 TED Talk, Listening to Shame, Brené Brown pointed out that TED is basically “a failure conference.” After some laughter from the audience, she went on to say, “You know why this place is amazing? Because very few people here are afraid to fail. And no one who gets on the stage, so far that I’ve seen, has not failed. I’ve failed miserably, many times.”

Trying something new, taking risks, and forging new habits can be scary.

So here are 8 TED Talks that will make you feel better about being wrong, failing, feeling ashamed, and getting rejected.

Because, we see you, 2016.

1. Vulnerability researcher, and favorite of whole-heartedness nerds everywhere, Brené Brown, discusses the importance of acknowledging shame and the role it plays in our lives.

2. Self described ‘wrongologist’ Kathryn Shultz teaches us why it is so important to be wrong, with some hilarious nods to road trips and Wile E. Coyote.

3. Everyone’s favorite muggle, J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement address. Okay, so it isn’t actually a TED Talk, but it’s on the TED website and is truly inspiring. Including the much meme-ified quote: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.”

4. Author, blogger, and entrepreneur Jia Jiang hilariously discusses what he learned from seeking out rejection for 100 days, and vlogging about it!

5. Entrepreneur and inventor, Astro Teller (yes, that’s his name!), discusses what it’s like to work as “Captain of Moonshots” at X, formerly Google X. They’ve got some pretty amazing things in the works, and some pretty epic fails on the books.

6. Self described ‘pre-crastinator’, Adam Grant, researches the innovative thinkers he calls ‘Originals,’ and shares research on some of the surprising habits of these creative thinkers. Spoiler (that isn’t really a spoiler) alert: One of them is lots of failing.

7. Writer and Art Historian, Sarah Lewis teaches us how to embrace the ‘near win,’ with stories and examples from renowned artists.

8. And finally, absolutely hilarious Professor of Economics (yes, watch for proof), Larry Smith, bluntly describes why you are going to fail to have a great career. It’s more inspiring than it sounds.

Want more inspiration? Click on over to TED.com and dive as deep down the TED Talk rabbit hole as you desire. You know we did.


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