You see the posts proliferating all over social media. An entire cottage industry sprouted up to espouse the virtue of failure. But the fetishism of failure actually does a disservice to all those it’s intended to soothe. Of course there is value to be extracted from the remnants of failure, and you should never avoid taking a shot solely to avoid the sting of rejection. Such a risk-averse mindset is the best way to guarantee a life of mediocrity.  

But let’s be honest: No one actually wants to fail, and for good reason. Failing sucks. And dismissing failure with such ease – or worse, acting like failure was a perfectly acceptable outcome among many  – means you won’t hear what failure is actually trying to tell you. And you may just lose that one death-defying chance to pivot, which could have changed everything. ​

Here are three lessons failure may be trying to teach you that should not be ignored: 

1- Your idea does not have product market fit. Or in other words, not enough people experience the problem you are trying to solve, or are willing to pay enough for your solution to make it a viable business. 

2 – You are missing a skill set or personality trait to execute your vision. No founder has the full complement of skills to single-handedly realize their own dream. Failure may be trying to amplify your shortcomings so you get to work mitigating them. 

3 – This one is harder to hear, but failure might be trying to tell you that you are just not cut out for this pursuit.Or more often, that your words and your heart are not aligned.  There is often a massive delta between what we envision and what manifests, and no one is condemned to live another person’s life if you change your mind.  Failure might be telling you to cut bait and follow your heart.

And most likely, maybe failure is just trying to test your resolve, and sharpen your grit against the grindstone of rejection. In which case, shake it off. Just don’t get used to it. 


  • Matt Higgins

    Cofounder and CEO

    RSE Ventures

    Matt Higgins is a noted serial entrepreneur and growth equity investor as cofounder and CEO of private investment firm RSE Ventures. He is also vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, a recurring Shark on ABC’s four-time Emmy-Award-winning TV show Shark Tank, and Executive Fellow at the Harvard Business School. Higgins began his career in public service as a journalist before becoming the youngest mayoral press secretary in New York City at 26, where he managed the global media response to the September 11th terrorist attacks. He became one of the first employees – and ultimately Chief Operating Officer – of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the federally funded government agency created to plan the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. Higgins helped organize the largest international design competition in history culminating in Reflecting Absence, the September 11th National Memorial, and the development of the 1,776-feet-tall One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the northern hemisphere. Higgins cofounded New York City based RSE Ventures in 2012, amassing a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio of leading brands across sports and entertainment, media and marketing, consumer and technology industries – including several of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. RSE has successfully backed many challenger brands from inception, including RESY, an Open Table competitor that American Express acquired in 2019; the world's premier drone racing circuit, the Drone Racing League; and the International Champions Cup, the largest privately owned soccer tournament featuring Europe’s top clubs. Higgins is also co-owner of VaynerMedia, founded by digital marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk, and a partner in early-stage venture fund Vayner/RSE. In 2013, Higgins cofounded Derris, a brand strategy and communications firm that has helped grow many leading brands such as Warby Parker and Glossier. In 2016, he broadened RSE’s investment focus to rapidly expanding fine dining and fast casual concepts, including David Chang’s Momofuku and Fuku, Milk Bar, &pizza and Bluestone Lane. Higgins received his BA in political science from Queens College and his JD from Fordham Law, where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review. He was named a Top 40 Under 40 executive by Crain’s New York and by Sports Business Journal. In 2019, Higgins received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor – joining the ranks of seven former U.S. presidents, Nobel Prize winners and others who have made it their mission to share their knowledge, compassion and generosity with those less fortunate. He is a longstanding board member of Autism Speaks.