Why I Launch Often and Fail Quickly

Life is short. Too short in my opinion.

If it were my choice, I’d probably choose to live to be a thousand years old. I’d be really crusty and smelly by then, but at least I’d have the opportunity to chase all the wild ideas and dreams that my brain manufactures daily.

The reality though is that I won’t live to be a thousand years old and every single day I have on this planet is a true gift from God. I want to make each day count and I want to live without any regrets.


My Dad’s Notebooks and A Harsh Realization

A few weeks ago I opened one of my treasure buckets that stored sketchbooks and journals from my dad. He passed away twenty-three years ago and I’ve held onto these works ever since then. It was awesome reading his words and seeing his creative thoughts from the time he wrote them, but it was also painful because the memories of my dad came flooding back to me like a tidal wave. His life was cut way too short, dying of a heart attack at the age of 51. It’s always left a huge scar on my heart and my soul. The other part that made the day really difficult was realizing that my dad and I both shared a common and bad trait.

Jim Dalman was a pioneer in many ways. He could spot upcoming trends and opportunities that would become million dollar ideas. Dad was one of the first cabinet makers in the United States to design and build the European 32 mm modular cabinet systems, which later became very popular amongst home builders and other cabinet makers. He had an uncanny ability to create business ideas that would eventually become profitable ventures for other entrepreneurs. His notes and thoughts dating back to the early 70’s were inspiring. I remember him telling me about a new idea with computers that would revolutionize business and the world as we knew it. I never got to hear what it was because he died several days later, but I believe it had something to do with the Internet.

My dad was brilliant and before his time in so many ways, but as I reviewed his works I noticed something concerning. He was great at coming up with valuable ideas, but not so great at launching them. It was then that I realized that I am the same way.

I’d Rather Launch Often and Fail Quickly, Than To Never Launch at All!

Some people have asked me why I continue to push my ideas out into the wild. They think I am absolutely insane and suggest that I should stick to only one thing. But here’s the deal. I can’t live with the regret of never trying my ideas or seeing if there is any value to them. I’d rather fail and be laughed at than to live with the pain of regrets.

There is no doubt that focus is essential for business success. This is why most of my efforts will solely be on my new venture Happy Joe. However, there are creative ideas I have desired to explore again such as illustration work or customizing VANS shoes. These pursuits aren’t about money or starting another business, but exploring talents that I love to use. I don’t want to get to the end of my life wishing I would have completed something I longed to do. I know I can’t do them all, but I’ll be damned if I don’t do some of them.

The way that I look at it is if one of these ideas is a success (success being defined in a variety of ways) then it’s a win! If any of these ideas fail – and many will – at least I tried and it’s still a win! The quicker an idea fails, the faster I can move onto something else. Win!

I loved my dad tremendously and I miss him still. He and my mom always encouraged and supported my creative pursuits, even when they were off the wall and crazy. I never got punished for bad grades as a child, even though it was because I’d draw in class instead of doing my work. My parents always wanted me to succeed at my ideas and now I can see one of the reasons why — my dad had regrets and ideas he wanted to do before he died.

I want to honor my parents for all their beliefs in me. I will launch often even if I fail, but at least I can say I launched.


  • http://www.donettadalman.com Donetta Dalman

    I love you so much and am so proud of you and all that you do! Your many ideas amaze me and it’s cool to see you try so many things!! Your dad would be SOOO impressed with you and so proud of you! He would be in awe of what you’ve accomplished. You’ve honored him well. :)

    • http://www.jamesdalman.com James Dalman

      Donetta, you are going to make me cry! ;) I love you too and thank you for being there to support me through all the crazy ideas. You are an amazing wife!

      • http://www.donettadalman.com Donetta Dalman

        No, there will be no crying because then you’ll make ME cry! lol! Thanks, babe! You are an amazing husband and it just makes it easy to support you.

  • http://gravatar.com/metalbagg metalbagg

    I agree completely with Donetta. You’re dad would be proud James.

    The fact that you have taken the time to know and understand him through his notes and research is more than a father could ever hope for. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the two of you will reunite again. :-)

    And I know I agree with pretty much everything you usually post, but once again I agree with the point of this post — which is to LAUNCH, even if it means we might fail.

    Life is too short and fragile not to put our God-given gifts to the test and see what comes of it.

    • http://www.jamesdalman.com James Dalman

      Thanks Patrick.

      One of the funny (and sad) things that I found in his notes was about how he had collected so much stuff (antiques and collectibles) and that how he wished he could just have the money for them because they aren’t that important. Then he went on to say that if anything did happen to him, he would only hope that his kids would want it. I have pretty much all of it. :)

      I did have a great relationship with him. It wasn’t perfect and he had his faults, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I know he’d be proud of what I’ve done and all the launches I’ve taken on. :)

      Life is too short. Make the most of every opportunity!

      • http://gravatar.com/metalbagg Patrick Neve

        It’s amazing how fathers think alike. I’m beginning to see the simplicity of life — at least the way it was meant to be. We aren’t even old yet, but I can relate to your dad, my dad, and probably other dads, . . . at the end of the day when the dust settles, family is what matters most.

  • http://membershipinsiders.com Danit Ben-David

    Hi James,

    Your post is so powerful and inspiring!

    I agree with you that life is too short and that launching “often and fail quickly” is the right things to do.

    I am a true believer in the “don’t put all the eggs in one basket” phrase so good luck in your future launches :)


    • http://www.jamesdalman.com James Dalman

      Thank you so much Danit! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and for your kind words. I wish you well and hope that you also celebrate your own launches. ;)

  • https://www.facebook.com/pattirenee Patti Katter

    I absolutely love this! :)

    • http://www.jamesdalman.com James Dalman

      Thanks Patti!