Source: Miss Pupik (Flickr)Ever have a bad idea? In marketing, that’s pretty much an occupational hazard.

Maybe that’s why I sometimes hear stories of campaigns that perform just terribly. Every so often I’m the one telling those stories.

But if we listen and learn, every failed campaign should lead us closer to success. Of course, it’s always preferable to fail fast, or better yet, not fail at all.

That’s why watching campaigns launch in real-time is so effective. It shortens the feedback loop, creating more opportunities to learn and optimize, or pull the plug. Real-time monitoring also let’s you know if you’ve struck gold and it’s time to ramp up your campaign and bet big while it's hot.

I hear these stories too, of agile marketers with their real-time data. When a campaign isn’t going well, they go on a hunt for a solution. A content change here. A new message there.

And by introducing optimization early and often, agile marketers might double, triple, even decuple (x10 — I had to look that up) the results of their efforts. Or maybe they terminate the project early to save budget for better ideas.

Last year I shared this quote from the noble laureate from whom I got my middle name.

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” 

I still think it’s a good reminder. Because even for campaigns that go down in infamy (or in flames), they weren’t mistakes if you learned from them.

And sometimes what is true in marketing is also true in life. So the next time you find yourself learning from something, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just make sure you're getting something out of it.

I think Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg put it eloquently in her new book Lean In.

“I used to think smarts reigned until I watched smart people flame out. Then I thought it was only about connections. That, too, had serious limits. So does luck.

When you get right down to it, success in life is about resilience. Every life well-lived is full of failures, both major and minor. What matters most is how we respond to setback, to challenge, to stress and strain."