With the phenomenal successes of FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, etc., it's easy to ignore failure as one of the critical factors in their journey and the journey of their also-ran counterparts.
Oh, for a time machine! I would travel back to 1995 and register facebook.com, twitter.com, youtube.com, myspace.com and a hundred other domain names – I'd be a trillionaire! Reminds me of a friend of mine who was offered a few acres of beachfront property in Byron Bay back in the 70s for $8,000 – who would have known, eh?
One of the most fascinating universal ironies is how utterly unpredictable the future seems to be, yet as soon as the future glides on through the present and cements itself into the past, hindsight turns all those uncertainties into the bleeding obvious and convinces us that we could have predicted it all, if only we'd kicked ourselves.
It doesn't help when everyone who achieves astronomical success goes around telling us in their smarmy autobiographies that it all turned out just as they expected, thanks to their brilliant talent and superhuman level of dedication and determination. What we forget is that all the losers would say exactly the same thing, if things had turned out differently for them.
I recently interviewed Aussie Internet entrepreneur, Collis Ta'eed, who commandeers the burgeoning Envato network. It was refreshing to hear his answer to "if you could do it all again, what would you do differently", and he replied "I would make all the same mistakes". He sees his failures as the most important factors in his success.
Success, I think, is actually quite unpredictable. Sure, you can control many factors; you can work hard, make smart choices and respond well to hiccoughs, but there is always the element of chance that the losers will always blame and the winners will pretend was part of their plan.
I guess the first rule is to just keep going, regardless, ready for the next stroke of luck to land in my lap. Through all my failures and hard-knock schooling, I'll be all the more prepared this time.
Life is like a game of Tetris (sorry Mr Gump). The possibilities come cascading towards us as we madly try to exert whatever limited control we have on the outcome. We miss a few, but somehow we are given more opportunity to connect another line and catch up. The more mistakes we make, the better we get at the game. By game over, we've left a trail of success and failure, achievement and regret, in, let's face it, fairly equal measure.
While Facebook and Twitter ride the crest of a massive wave, their reign is never assured and there are tens of thousands of start-ups like yours and mine, thrashing out our intentions every day, stumbling, falling, dusting ourselves off and getting back out there. We've probably all got 100 domain names registered and our eye on some land half-way across the Nullabor that will one day be the main street of a megacity. We're failing every day – and creeping ever closer to our destiny.
The first thing to do with any one of those 100 domain names is to just start. As James Cameron said "failure is always an option, but fear is not."