Many people misunderstand the true meaning behind ‘fail early, fail fast’. The most ‘high-profile’ of which is Jason Fried and our friends at 37Signals.
Fail early, fail fast isn’t encouraging you to fail. It’s encouraging you to act/move/start.
Read the phrase again, with emphasis: fail early, fail fast.
The idea behind the saying is, just do something. It’s easy to get trapped in a ‘secure’ situation. Whether that is a ‘stable/cushy’ job, or using a product that is OK. It’s this inertia that kills innovation. It’s fear of the unknown or fear of the failure that also dis-incentivizes people from striking out and making that killer product they have always envisioned, or recorded that song they have written, or sold that painting they have stashed away in their basement.
People get accustomed to procrastinating and delaying that they don’t attempt to do what they say they want to do.
The phrase ‘fail early, fail fast’ is attempting to take the sting out of the fear of failing - by using the terms ‘early’ & ‘fast’. Makes it sound ‘quick’ and ‘painless’. Ever been to a doctor to get an injection?
‘It will feel like a mosquito bite’ is what I am always told.
It’s kinda like that - especially since creating a new product is so hard, the last thing a creator needs is the fear of failure hanging over their heads (although, to be fair that fear can be a good motivator).
I am not advocating failure, but anything that removes one more psychological barrier for inventors can only be good for society.
So, go ahead and fail as quickly as you can. Pick yourself up, and try again.
Editor’s Note: Please note that I am not encouraging people to strike out in an attempt to fail. Simply to not be afraid of failing - if that wasn’t clear enough in the post.