“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard that ‘failure breeds success’, I wouldn’t need to invest in property to be a millionaire. Not to take away from the incredibly impressive feats of the two men quoted above, but amongst this worn-out rhetoric, we seldom hear just how to move from failure to success! Yes, Walt Disney was fired for ‘lacking imagination’. Yes, Oprah lost her first TV news anchor job for being ‘too emotionally invested in her stories’. But how did Walt come to dominate the big screen, how did Oprah become arguably the most influential person on earth? In a nutshell, instead of force-feeding you feel good rhetoric about failure, here are my best five tips that you can use to jump from failure to success:
- It’s nothing personal. Accepting failure is never easy, but it can be easier to bear by removing your identity from the failure. For example, let’s imagine we are Sir Isaac Newton, and after being pulled out of school by Mum to work on the farm, we discover we are absolutely terrible at farm work. We’ve failed, and Mum’s not happy (FYI that’s a true story). We could take the failure personally, and feel inadequate and depressed, or we could simply realise that everyone has different talents and ours is not farm work, then move on, determined to discover our talent. Your frame of mind during failure is a choice that you can make. Make the right one!
- Practice resilience. Resilience is like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it gets. James Dyson, inventor of Dyson Vacuums, took 15 years, his life savings and 5,126 failed prototypes to eventually perfect his vacuum cleaner. He’s now worth $5billion. Without a very, very strong resilience, Dyson would probably be broke and a failed inventor. His story is an example of when failure doesn’t demand change, just determination. Unfortunately, picking when to persevere and when to move on is always difficult and completely your decision.
- Identify and fix flaws. Perhaps Dyson could have used some more of this! Failure is often the result of a mistake, a contextual problem, or structural/conceptual flaw. Use this failure to identify these then fix them! Write down what was done well, and what was not. Then write a new list of solutions and improvements. Make this your checklist for next time.
- Start your next project. Try to start your next project ASAP. This will keep your mind occupied and away from negative thoughts. You’ll also begin to build constructive momentum that drives you and your new project forward. This being said, allow time for Tip #3 otherwise you’ll commit the cardinal entrepreneurial sin of making the same mistake twice!
- Keep perspective. With failure, you join a long list of very impressive individuals that were failures before big time winners. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the same art school multiple times. Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’. Fred Astaire was told he ‘can’t sing, can’t act’. The same was told to Harrison Ford. Henry Ford, before he made it big, had a terrible reputation after multiple failed automobile ventures. So get down on yourself, find inspiration and stay optimistic.
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