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Move Fast and Break Things – Fail and Succeed

Facebook's famous motto, 'move fast and break things' is one that I've admired for some time. It flies in the face of mainstream advice, seeing that it asks you to not always worry, reflect, analyse, etc. before you DO something new.

In his letter to investors before the IPO in May 2012 Mark Zuckerberg explained 'Move fast and break things' thus:

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

I was reminded of this motto painfully last week when the WordPress site I had been working on, upon activating a child theme, threw a nasty FATAL ERROR.

Now, rather than feel depressed and beat myself up over it, I thought of how I (try to) approach failure - which is to accept it as the other side of the coin of success.  'Move fast and break things' has been fundamental to my learning, especially the geek learning related to all things internet / coding. Failure and 'breaking things' is the best motivator and driver for growth and success.

Move Fast and Break Things - Here's Why:

Learn faster

If you fail, at least in coding, you're creating a problem that needs to be solved, and fast - especially where it's someone else's site you're working on!

Love yourself

Failing is a great way to learn to love yourself, warts and all. If you are successful, and strive to be the best, then failing keeps you grounded, humble, and accepting of mistakes along the way.

Own your (working) life

If you move fast and break things, you're more likely to be autonomous ('breaking things' needs courage and fosters independent thinking). Rand Fishkin (CEO of cites Daniel Pink in a recent article, who observed that human beings need three things to be happy in their work – autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

If you fail, you're not only more autonomous and courageous. In addition, fixing what you've broken gives you purpose (to not just fix it but make it much better!), and it ultimately leads to mastery.

8 Secrets of Success

It's not surprising that Richard St. John, in his famous Ted talk viewed by 4.5m people, lists persistence (in the face of failure) as one of the key secrets of success. Watch his amazing succinct but very powerful talk below:

PS: I managed to fix the FATAL ERROR by the way. And learned that it occurred because the theme, being a freemium one, has protected some of its files to make 'hacking it' (modifying it) more difficult. Understandably so.

Solution: if you want to create child themes in WordPress, the safest bet is to stick to the default WP ones and currently that's Twenty Thirteen.


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