Fail like a Finn

Happy October 13, aka “National Day for Failure” in Finland.

According to The Culture Trip, the first National Day for Failure was observed in 2010 by a group of Finnish students.

The reason the founders decided to devote an entire day to screwing up is because it is frowned upon in Finnish society. … [But] by sharing stories and photos of botched attempts, [participants] lose their natural fear of criticism.

We all know on an intellectual level that failure is a natural — and inevitable — part of life.

Here’s one of my favorite fashion fails, in the form of some shoes I bought on eBay many years ago. They fit perfectly! Until I started to walk.

Computers screw up too, like the time Facebook asked me to tag this “friend” …

… or placed Cancun just off the coast of Africa.

But when failures are serious — and especially when they’re public — they can take an emotional toll. It can be hard to practice self-compassion and acceptance as you relive the failure over and over.

Fortunately, there is a solution: You can learn to fail. According to professional speaker Rachel Simmons, learning to fail is a skill like any other; It just takes practice.

And who knows? Once you get really good at it you might start seeking rejection on purpose, like Jia Jiang did for 100 straight days.

Or — if you’re a graphic designer — you might download the Fockups app to better visualize how your work is going to fail in the real world. Because, according to Fockups’ creator, Amsterdam designer Wytze Hoogslag:

Current mockups display these situations too idealistic. The subjects are smoothly floating around in space, beautifully enlightened or depicted along with a blue sky or a perfect cappuccino.

Reality turns out that the design faces lots of challenges: wind, rain, time, graffiti, human stupidity. Those real-life unfortunate situations are collected in the series Fockups. These f*cked-up mockups show your design in an honest way.


Which brings me to the last point: Probably our greatest weapon against the fear of failure is being able to laugh at ourselves. And that’s where I think the Finnish students really nailed it.

So, why not celebrate one of your failures like a Finn today, and encourage others to do the same?