Fuckups and Failure – Sharing stories of failure and the paths people took to achieve it

On Monday 10th April at 6.30pm, Impact Hub Birmingham will host the first of its monthly Fuckup Nights. Interested in knowing more? Read on…

“To err is human; to fuckup, divine” or other such mistreated quotes is what those who fetishise (and regularly monetise) failure would like you to believe. At the moment it feels like there is a growing trend (did it start in tech? It probably stared in tech – it usually does) for the humanity and reality to be removed from failure, leaving us with a ‘failure in a sandbox’ or a ‘fuck up on a pedestal’ whilst completely bypassing the level of privilege which has to exist for a failure to genuinely not matter. The global Fuckup Nights (FUN) movement has some elements of this to it, but with FUN Brum we’re hoping to bring a different lens to fuckups and failures. We want Fuckup Nights to be about digging into the messes, contradictions and challenges people have faced in their professional lives, finding the emotions at the centre of this and revelling in this discovery.

Fuckup Nights is a global movement where stories of failed businesses and projects are told, questioned and celebrated. Starting in Mexico a few years ago there are now Fuckup Nights every month in 200+ cities around the world. In Brum we felt it was important to join the movement and contribute to the FUN journey rather than build our own thing in some bizarre ego-led attempt to claim exploring failure as a paradigm-shifting creation of our own (it’s not). Having said that, we do think @FUN_Brum will diverge slightly from the traditional ‘beer and banter’ approach the movement somewhat cherishes. Here in Birmingham, we hope to strip away a lot of the rhetoric and perceive fuckups for what they really are – just, people doing things. To help us do this we have a few core principles which will enable us to bypass the ego and focus on the ergo.

Principle 1: Behind Every Great Fuckup Lies Someone (Presumably) Trying Their Best

Life is hard, business is tough and risk management practitioners make a lot of money for a reason. Things will go wrong. The stories shared at Fuckup Nights are people’s journeys – they are personal, candid and real. This takes courage and should be applauded. Through talking about a fuckup in a concentrated way, to a close up and empathetic crowd we hope to highlight the emotions and motivations that arise as fuckups occur. We aspire to move past failure, pick up some learnings and explore how the execution, rather than the person, is often at the root of the truly great fuckups. There is no schadenfreude here.

Principle 2: “Failure Is The First Step To Success” (and other such bullshit) Is Not Welcome Here

Fuckups happen. There is an intrinsic value to be acknowledged here which is lost when you slam failure together with success as some sort of progress see-saw. Failure does not garner its value from simply ‘not being success’. At FUN Brum we will value fuckups in their own right. Yes there are learnings to be found and resilience is great, but we wish to hone in on the simple beauty of the fuckup itself. Put simply, bullshit is not welcome here, philosophy can pop in from time-to-time, but our focus is on the immediacy and the reality of the fuckups.

Principle 3: Fuckup Nights are as much about the Nights as they are the Fuckups

Our ambition is for an evening which encourages openness, emotional engagement and inspiration. We want to make sure every moment of FUN is filled with generosity and reciprocity – from the audience to the speakers, from the hosts to the audience and from the learnings to the stories. To do this we will create a welcoming space – where people come as much to chill and learn as they do to network and exchange and host in a non-intrusive way.

Think of the Fuckups as the reason to turn up, and the Night as the reason to stay.

Our first Fuckup Night is happening on Monday 10th April at Impact Hub Birmingham. It’s free to attend, but please sign up for a ticket if you’re going to come so we can set up the space accordingly (we don’t want to fuck this up). For more information and to book a place, step inside FuckUp Nights Brum: Vol. 1.