Reframing Failure as Learning – Astro Teller

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Categories Edison Awards News
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  2017 Edison Awards Achievement Honoree, Astro Teller, holds the same positive look about failure that Edison had.


Astro Teller of X says, “When you set out to explore a brave, new, weird place that no one’s ever explored before, you bring along a list of things you hope are true and right. And most of the time, you discover that you’re wrong about a lot of those things – which is why I spend so much time talking about failure being a necessary condition of moonshot-taking. I want to help our teams experience this as valuable learning rather than dispiriting setback. But something else happens when you go to that strange, mysterious, even scary, new place. You make unexpected discoveries that propel you forward faster than you ever thought possible.”

Project Loon is an X project focusing on balloon-powered Internet.  Last month, the team made a big discovery and took steps forward in their innovative project, which you can read more about here. Teller shares that, “It’s still a surprise to many of us that Loon is looking as promising as it is; for years, the team focused their efforts on proving that Loon wouldn’t work. Even the Project name tells you that our mindset when we got started was more “worth a shot” rather than “this could work.” Yet with each passing year, we keep finding the next steps on the path to making balloon-powered Internet a reality.”


Check out Astro Teller’s TED Talk on “The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure” for more about how he and X are looking at the impacts of failure and continuing to strive for success just as Edison did.
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Mellissa Hopkins

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