The Apple II was a hit. The Cloud Nine universal remote was not. Here’s what Steve Wozniak learned about creativity, and what it means for his latest venture. An excerpt from Juice: The Creative Fuel that Drives World-Class Inventors.

Failure is the rule rather than the exception, and every failure contains information. One of the most misleading lessons imparted by those who have reached their goal is that the ones who win are the ones who persevere. Not always. If you keep trying without learning why you failed, you’ll probably fail again and again. Perseverance must be accompanied by the embrace of failure. Failure is what moves you forward. Listen to failure.

But there are different kinds of failure. Sometimes, failure tells you to give up and do something else entirely. Other times, it tells you to try a different approach, a new route to the top of the mountain. Or it may tell you to make a detour. Sometimes, it tells you that you need help. Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to tell you anything. Linda Stone, a former executive at both Apple Computer and Microsoft, recalls a conversation she participated in with Steve Wozniak and Dean Kamen, perhaps the two best-known living inventors.

“I’ll never forget it,” Stone says. “They just were talking about all their failures, and how they both felt like failures.” They were almost bragging about various laboratory fiascoes and catastrophes. Given their success, this seemed extraordinary. According to Stone, the conversation occurred just before an awards ceremony. “They were both being celebrated,” she says. So Wozniak and Kamen clearly weren’t talking about their failures as a way of feeling sorry for themselves. Rather, they were identifying with a thinking strategy they both had in common. “Every failure is a learning experience,” concludes Stone, “and it should be seen as part of progress, rather than seeing it as the enemy.”

SOURCE: HBS WorkingKnowledge