They say failure teaches more than success, and maybe that’s true (Tom Cruise disagrees). What is certainly true though is that there is a way to fail, and a way not to.
I’ve personally learnt quite a bit from my failures, things i thought i already knew, but didn’t really. Two main lessons stand out…
- Failure is not to be feared
- Don’t commit suicide when you do.
Failure is not to be feared.
Actually, it’s to be embraced! Failure, strangely enough, is part of the success package you’re looking for. Successful businesses and entrepreneurs fail all the time…in fact they tend to fail much more than failures do.
Compared to unsuccessful people, successful entrepreneurs have more
- ideas that fail
- strategies that fail
- systems that fail
It’s because they try more, take more action, do more stuff. The inevitable result is that they’ll fail more, and of course that they’re far more likely to discover what works and how to work it.
So why don’t more people take action on their dreams?
Mostly fear, and fear mostly, of failure – which funny enough, leads to the very failure we fear. In helping people start-up and grow businesses, I’ve often had requests for “the failure proof business idea”. “Max, what can i do with my money/time/opportunity that will guarantee success?”. I often say, “Friend, only God can guarantee your success, I can only help you make it much less likely than it already is”.
Lesson: Don’t Let Fear Of Failure Stop You From Success – Take action on those dreams!
Don’t Commit Suicide When you Fail
When businesses fail, several things happen. Salaries go unpaid, debts explode in your face, relationships are severely strained, promises are broken, brands are destroyed and if it’s a valuable business, the market is poorer for it. However, in the middle of all this, whats most important is what is happening in the mind of the entrepreneur.
Failure will take on the meaning you give it.
It could mean: “wow, next time I’ll hire better” or “next time I’ll invest in proper marketing”. Or it could mean “I’m a failure, I’ll never be a successful entrepreneur”
A failed business, isn’t a failed entrepreneur. A failed idea isn’t a failed goal, a failed product or service isn’t a failure to contribute value to the market you care about…unless you believe it is. Your belief has the power to take a set back and commit business suicide over it. A wrong belief can turn a merely bad business, into a dead dream, and that is far worse. It can take a temporary business failure and turn it into a permanently failed entrepreneur. You must not allow this.
Lesson: Don’t Let A Temporary Failure Kill Your Long Term Potential
So knowing that failure is a common, even necessary part of success, it pays to know how to fail. I like what Seth Godin has to say on the subject.
“Keep failing until you succeed, stay in the game. If your life isn’t on the line, take appropriate risks, most failure isn’t fatal. The only real failure is when you fail to try, or when you fail so badly you just can’t see yourself in the game anymore.”
I leave you with this thought from Michael Jordan. He knows a little something about failure
- Failed as a talk show host for “Michael Jordan Airwaves.” He was no Oprah
- Michael holds the record for the worst success average for 3 pointers in his first four seasons in the NBA
- Completely failed career in base-ball
- Failed as an actor (Space Jam)
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”