If you’ve failed at least once, you’re probably on the path to success. Most of us assume that success comes easily to a few lucky people, but it doesn’t. Lasting success is not easy. As an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to accept some failure along the way. Sometimes experiencing failure is the fastest way to learn how to improve.
Throughout my life I have typically seen two kinds of people, those who accept failure as part of the ride and those who avoid failure at all cost. The people who accept failure as part of life are able to learn from it, and those who avoid failure at all cost let it devastate them when it happens.
If you’re the type of person who avoids failure at all cost, entrepreneurship or leadership may not be the best path for you. If you are determined to move forward as an entrepreneur, you will need to learn how to accept stress and failure as part of life, and you will want to spend your energy learning how to move past failures with multiple plans.
You can learn to use failure as a stepping stone, or you can carry it around and let it weigh you down, the choice is yours.
Learn to Embrace Failure
When the going gets tough, I encourage my team to see past the hardship of failure to find the lessons we can learn from it. If we gave up every time we failed, we would never have learned how to walk or talk. Babies are a great example of never giving up! They have incredible persistence and willingness to learn. While a fall might hurt us right away, what will hurt us in the long run is never getting up again.
Ask the Right Questions
It is human tendency to point fingers and play the blame game when something goes wrong. Effective leaders know that a time of failure is not the right time to blame someone, but to ask questions. “How did we get here?” “What went wrong?” and another effective question to ask would be: “What can we do to make this right?” These questions can be difficult to ask when you’re under extreme stress, but it is important to learn and evolve as a team when something goes wrong so that you can prevent it from happening again.
Grieve if You Need to
If you feel like you have failed at something, it can be a blow to your confidence. I don’t expect you to be able to move on immediately and learn from every failure you experience. However, some failures will seem harder than others. If you have failed at something and it makes you angry or sad or frustrated or any other emotion, allow yourself some time to reflect on why this particular failure has hit you so hard. Get your negative emotions out of the way so that you can move forward, and remember that “failure is something that happens, not something you are” (Patrick Allan, lifehacker.com).
Change Your Definition of Failure
Why let the idea of failing hold you back when it can liberate your creativity and teach you lessons along the way. We have attached so much negativity to the word “failure” that we become afraid to try new things and challenge ourselves. Behind every great invention, there are millions of failures. Churchill believed that failure was part of the process and said, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Believe in this idea and change your definition, welcome failure with open arms because it means you are trying something new and making waves. One epic failure could lead you to your next greatest success, but how will you know if you never try?
Failure isn’t the end, and it’s not a bad thing when you can learn from it. Learning from failure turns it into your stepping stone towards success.