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WedOct 13

International Day for Failure – October 13, 2021

International Day for Failure is celebrated with much zeal and learning around the world on October 13. Did you know that the Aalto University in Finland has something to do with the creation of International Day for Failure? It may be strange, even ironic, for a country like Finland, in whose culture failure is not the norm, to have initiated the idea of a day solely dedicated to the celebration of failure. If they could embrace it, we see no reason why the rest of us can’t.

History of International Day for Failure

International Day for Failure started as an initiative of students at Aalto University in Finland before it became an annually celebrated global holiday.

The students reasoned that Finland needed an increase in small start-up businesses, but the typical Finn abhors failure and would be averse to start-ups. The fear of failing and the stigma that may follow discouraged many potential Finnish entrepreneurs from venturing, hence the idea of creating a day to celebrate failure which, they believed, would, in turn, remove the phobia for taking risks and invariably increase the number of startups. Did it work? Well, it’s International Day of Failure today. So we’d like to think it did.

The first holiday was celebrated in 2010 by a group of students in Finland. And by the time the second event was to be held, it had already begun to gain huge media coverage and support from influential Finnish people and companies. So much so that by the third year, the group of students had organized an expansion of the event to celebrate the Finland Day of Failure to around 17 other countries.

They also had huge support from Nokia’s chair of the board of directors Jorma Ollila, and Angry Bird’s creator, Peter Vesterbacka. Even now, the events held around celebrating the day serve as platforms for popular Finnish personalities to share the stories of their defeats that later turned into wins.

The idea around the day is to spread the argument that making mistakes and failing is normal and is even an invaluable part of a person’s growth and eventual success.

International Day for Failure encourages people to try new and daring things; motivates and inspires others to succeed through sharing stories of successful people, their failures on their way up.

International Day for Failure timeline

2010
First Day of Failure Celebration is Held

In 2010, Finnish university students hold the event that leads to the creation of the International Day for Failure.

2012
Day of Failure Goes Online

A Facebook page for Day of Failure is created on August 5, 2012.

2012
Finland’s Initiative Expands

The initiative that preceded the creation of International Day for Failure expands to its first 17 countries worldwide.

2014
A Survey Reports Celebrating Failure is Important

A 2014 Global Entrepreneurial Monitor report reveals that 30% of Americans are disinclined to start a business because they are scared of failing.

International Day for Failure FAQs

Which celebrity has experienced failure?

Just about every successful and celebrated person on the planet has failed at points (multiple points) of their life, from Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey to Walt Disney to J.K. Dowling’s, all of whom have had their fair share of failures in life.  

How can I celebrate failure?

Start to think of it as the normal process of growth. Failures are inevitable for everyone taking risks (and we take risks all the time, consciously or unconsciously) and are even needful sometimes. 

What is an example of a famous failure?

Thomas Edison’s failure is perhaps the most referenced. He failed 1,000 times before he finally invented the light bulb. 

How To Observe International Day for Failure

  1. Learn about the personal setbacks of people you admire

    Yup! Talk to them. Watch or read about them in a book or on the internet to see that failures could be valuable, even needed, sometimes.

  2. Fail at something

    Dare to fail at something. Do something you're afraid of, like asking your crush out on a date.

  3. Think of how to learn from other people's failures

    Think about how you can learn from your failures or the failures of others. Surprisingly, people learn more in failing than in succeeding.

5 Important Facts About Failure

  1. Nokia once cheered for it

    By 2011, the second year of the International Day of Failure celebration, the day had gained so much publicity that mobile phone brand Nokia chair Jorma Ollila spoke in support of it.

  2. It’s was created to motivate

    The original aim of the day is to motivate, as it was created in Finland out of the fear that entrepreneurial spirit in the country would be damaged if the fear people have of starting a business and failing persist.

  3. It recognized that there’s stigma around failure

    International Day for Failure was started solely to make falling acceptable and seen as a normal process of human growth.

  4. The most celebrated people failed many times

    Yes, International Day for Failure recognizes that people like Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, all failed before they achieved success.

  5. Robert F. Kennedy’s quote

    The quote by the brother of the 64th president of the United States is one that best describes the motive behind this day: "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly".

Why International Day for Failure Is Important

  1. It's about motivation

    Failure happens all the time! So it makes sense to cheer up after one, learn from it, and keep moving. International day for failure helps encourage those who have turned their failure into huge successes to share their stories to motivate us.

  2. It's about neutralizing the stigma around failing

    Society doesn’t see failures as something we should be proud of, but through International Day for Failure, we want to change that. We celebrate the day to neutralize all stigmas and dogmas and help people see why failing could be something people need at various points in their lives.

  3. We learn from celebrated people’s failures

    Yes! We celebrate International Day for Failure so we can glean wisdom from the experience of others. We want to know how they scaled through and what they learned from it!

International Day for Failure dates

YearDateDay
2021October 13Wednesday
2022October 13Thursday
2023October 13Friday
2024October 13Sunday
2025October 13Monday

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