The fear of failure

To promote their graduation exhibition in May, students from Berghs School of Communication invited leading figures in the creative world to discuss their ‘fear of failure’

To promote their graduation exhibition in May, students from Berghs School of Communication invited leading figures in the creative world to discuss their ‘fear of failure’

Berghs student Louise Ljungberg explains: “Once a year, in May, we hold an exhibition. 151 graduation students will present their work within communication and design. The exhibition is created by a group of fourteen selected students, the Student Agency, and our aim it is to find a relevant and engaging angle on the students’ theme, which is ‘courage in communication’,” she says. “Courage is very much associated with fear. We students (including me) are constantly flanked by the biggest creativity blocker of them all – the fear of failure. Therefore we’ve decided that this year’s exhibition theme will be – the fear of failure. The purpose of having this theme is to equip the students (and the Swedish communication industry) with a new perspective on failure.”

The students asked prominent figures in their fields to record messages on the theme using a webcam. First to contribute was author Paolo Coelho


Other contributors include Stefan Sagmeister


AKQA’s Rei Inamoto


Photographer Sarah Moon


Wally Olins

Wally Olins – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.



And, perhaps offering the greatest insight, MIlton Glaser


You can see the work of the Berghs students behind the idea here


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  • Listening to Milton Glazer speak for 7 mins 27 seconds has been the most insightful thing I have heard in ages.

    Understanding value in specialism and embracing failure.

    Simple lessons, often forgotten.

  • The last line from Sagmeister is so true “If you do not start it now, you will not start it later”

  • Dan

    “You say you are scarcely competent to write books just yet. That is why I recommend you to learn. If I advised you to learn to skate, you would not reply that your balance was scarcely good enough yet. A man learns to skate by staggering about and making a fool of himself. Indeed he progresses in all thing by resolutely making a fool of himself. You will never write a good book until you have written some bad ones. . .

    Finally, since I have given you all this advice, I add this crowning precept, the most valuable of all. NEVER TAKE ANYBODY’S ADVICE.”

    G. Bernard Shaw
    2nd of December, 1894

  • LO ACki

    Milton is running tings!

  • Christopher Brown

    It is better to have failed than never to have tried at all.

  • Christopher Brown

    If life teaches you only one thing let it be that “Failure is not a bad thing without it how else would we learn anything”.

  • Richard smith

    Milton you wise fellow. Never fail to inspire

  • Great words from Milton, he and Michael Wolff are two people I’d love to sit with and just listen too. Brilliant minds.

  • I think you should accept failure as an integral part of success. And most importantly don’t let others define which is which.

  • i liked paul coelho’s response – you can only do your best. it’s enough to understand that.

  • Great article, thanks for writing this. I’ve also recently wrote a blog post called ‘Failure Can Be Fantastic’ which may interest you, you can find it here