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Can failure be a good thing? I believe so.
I failed at something today. In fact, I fail at something almost every day. It seems strange to admit that. I usually like to hide my weaknesses, but failure is common to the human experience. So why hide it?
Failure is especially common to the entrepreneurial experience. Being an entrepreneur is all about blazing new trails — something that simply cannot be done without a share of disappointments, embarrassments, and yes, failures. Here’s the question though: Can failure be a good thing? I believe so.
As a young entrepreneur, I can personally attest to the power of failure. My first attempt at starting a business failed completely. After 14 months and a net income of minus $800, we closed the doors. Right on the heels of that fiasco, my second business found itself six-figures in the hole before it even got off the ground. Three months after our original projected start date, our website was still unfinished and we were out of money. At that point, it would have been easy to give up, but I’m glad we didn’t. Within six months, our fledgling company was debt free and had enough cash on hand to reach development goals. Inside of 12 months, we were on track to seven-figure annual earnings and tripled in size. What lessons did I learn from this experience?
Failure is an Educator
If you want to know what you’re really made of, analyze how you respond to failure. If it’s your own failure, do you try to excuse it away, or do you own it? If the failure was on the part of a colleague or subordinate, do you use it as a growth opportunity, or do you come down hard on your people? Following any failure, take time to investigate what led up to it. Ask yourself what mistakes were made and what lessons can be learned. When it comes to business, few things are perfect, and nothing is ever complete. Failure presents the perfect opportunity to realign priorities and establish clear direction.
Recoveries Are Satisfying
Case in point: the stock market. Once it reaches its lowest point, it turns upward. The low point is the best time to invest, because that is precisely when the most upside potential exists. Business functions in a similar fashion. Think of how much we love turnaround stories. We admire the hero who triumphs over adversity because that’s when it counts the most. Mustering courage when we are at our worst is what makes us stronger. Yes, we grow every time we refuse to let a momentary setback become a permanent failure. Remembering this fact can motivate us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again.
Failing Big Leads to Winning Big
If you’ve failed at something colossally, it probably happened because you were reaching outside of your comfort zone. In the process, you surpassed many of those who refused to extend themselves; which is why they didn’t fail. To fail big, you have to think big and try big. At the point where you fail, there is a good chance you’ve already surpassed your competition.
To thrive in business, you simply must find the motivation to respond in a positive way even when the odds are stacked against you. To echo the words of American businessman and writer, Dale Carnegie, “discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” So the next time you are facing failure, embrace it. You’re probably closer to success than you think!