Do you think failure is necessary to succeed?
I experienced something in my own business, which I personally consider to be a failure, and I was really struggling to get over this. Most people try to avoid failure at all cost since failure kind of has this connotation that’s looked down upon. It’s seen as a deficiency or rejection or something’s wrong with you if you fail. Thus, people are not going out and trying to fail on purpose. Some don’t even aim for success and we like to play things safe.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you failed by default.” – JK Rowling
This is one of my favorite quotes because I truly believe that if you just keep trying, there is no such thing as failure. If you didn’t try at all, then how can you fail? I think that sometimes when we do end up failing, we tend to gloss over our mistakes or we start to make excuses or we start blaming others and that’s all really not good either. Failure is really a byproduct of risk, and I believe that starting a business is obviously a huge risk and requires going outside of your comfort zone.
FAITH Is Spelled RISK
In order to have a lot of faith, you have got to take a lot of risk. Starting a business is definitely risky and it definitely involves a lot of faith. I want to take a setback for one minute and define what failure and success really are, so we know what we kind of talking about here.
Definition of Failure: the action or state of not functioning, meaning a breakdown or malfunction, the collapse of your business, meaning bankruptcy or closure, lack of success, defeat, disappointment, not hitting a certain goal that you want to achieve and not achieving your desired outcomes.
That's really the kind of failure that we’re talking about here. It’s kind of the type of failure where you set a goal and you just don’t achieve it or you reach halfway or you reach three quarters of the way, but you don't actually hit your goal right. On the other hand, a lot of people have different definitions of success, so that really is a very personal thing,
Definition of Success: means either affluence, riches or profit. The attainment of popularity or the accomplishment of an aim or purpose hitting a certain goal and achieving a certain dream.
Ergo for me, when I say success, this is what I'm talking about. I'm talking about hitting your goals, achieving your dreams, achieving your desired outcome, and really a lot of this again is very personable. It's based on your perception and your own experience. It’s based on your interpretation of what's going on and really your response to that interpretation. I love John Maxwell, he says that, “the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure,” and I think that's a really good quote and so important. It really is all based on what is your response to your failure. You're definitely going to fail at something, I guarantee it. If you're starting your own fashion line, you're starting a fashion business - you will fail. But the key is how are you responding to that failure and what’s your perception of that failure? Are you looking down upon the failure or are you looking at it towards a stepping stone to something greater? This is kind of where I was getting stuck in my business and of course again this all depends on a lot of other things too like your emotions - are you a very emotional person? Do you have really highs and really lows? How positive of a person you are? Do you tend to get negative toward things or do you tend to take a positive, the glass is half-full kind of mentality?
Stay Positive, Less Perfect, & More Patient
Trying to stay positive after failure can be tough, but hopefully after today you’ll view failure in a different way. It can depend on how much of a perfectionist you are, which I like to say I’m a recovering perfectionist. I used to be super, super bad about being a perfectionist and really there's no point. Good is better than perfect and done is better than perfect. I would rather have something done and off my plate and good enough, than waiting and procrastinating forever until it’s absolutely perfect, which may never actually happen. It also depends on your level of patience, how long you’re willing to wait to see your dreams and goals fulfilled. Plus whether you see the time as you’re waiting as a failure because you haven't reach to the goal or if you're seeing it as okay. I know I’m going to reach the goal eventually, it will eventually happen and I will eventually have success and of course your level of stubbornness. Some people are so unwilling to let something go, they are holding onto this idea that they have and there is goal that they have and really maybe it wasn't working for you and that's why it failed. You have to have a level, is this something that’s a good idea or a bad idea? And if it’s a bad idea and it's not working, maybe you just need to let it go instead of keep doing it over and over again. Perfection takes too long and it really does nothing for you. So the faster you can get over your perfectionism, the better - trust me.
More Failures = More Success
Going back to the story of my own personal failure, I really was struggling with this one particular thing that happened to my business and my coach really helped me through it. I have my own personal business coach because I believe in coaching so much. He really helped me see it not as a failure, but as basically part of the process of starting a business and growing a business. He got me to see that failure is part of to the process. Therefore, success requires failure and the more times you fail, the more times you succeed. In other words, if you keep failing, the more success you'll actually have. It’s all part of the business building process and that really got me thinking again about how businesses actually grow. We try to think that businesses grow in a straight diagonal line up, but really it doesn't happen like that. It’s kind of like the stock market - it goes up, then it goes down, then it goes up, then it goes down - and over time the general direction is up. However if you looked at one small fraction, one piece of your business at a certain time, it would actually look like it's going down. Nonetheless, in the long-term and the overall big picture, it’s still going up and will continue to do so.
Big Picture Mindset
It is about having that big picture mindset - having the vision, what is the end goal, what is your business going to achieve over a long period of time. You might have declines for two years of sales, but overall over 10-year’s worth of your business, you made tons of money. Is it worth it to look at those two years where you “failed” or you might see it as a failure because you lost money and you lost profits, or is it worth it to see over the long term what you actually gained? This reminded me of another quote from the CEO of Netflix, “If you're having too much success, you haven’t set your goals high enough.” There needs to be a certain level of failure as you grow and you should be dreaming big enough because you should be failing. It’s natural to fail. In your business, it's totally okay to have failure and you should even desire failure and want failure in your business. If you haven’t failed, it means you’re not getting out of your comfort zone enough.
Failures Mean Growth
Having some level of failure is good in your business as you’re growing. That really started to change everything for me and then I started to think even more. It got me thinking of other famous inventions that were created and a lot of famous businesses that started that didn't have a lot of success in the very beginning. For example, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, but did you know that he failed ten thousand times before creating the lightbulb? Yet he quoted as saying, “I’ve not failed, I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work,” and that’s a really great perspective to have. It’s not looking at it as a failure, it’s trying and you just keep changing something. You just keep adapting and moving in a different direction until you find something that clicks. It really only takes one thing to have a breakthrough in your business and completely skyrocket.
Never Quit, Never Fail
The only way really to not fail in my opinion is to not quit. If you never quit, you'll never fail, you'll never truly fail in my opinion because the small failures don't really matter - but the larger failure is actually giving up on yourself. Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? Look where he is now. He said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can't accept not trying,” and that's a really good quote to live by. There’s countless examples of celebrities, founders, and startup companies who were laughed at for their ideas. They all did fail a lot. But it’s about being persistent, not giving up, and continuing until you are successful. Take Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, who completely changed fashion because she had one idea and actually she credits a lot of it to her father. She said that her father growing up would always ask them at the dinner table EVERY DAY, “What have you failed at this week,” which I found pretty interesting. He always taught them that failure is when you're not trying versus failure meaning the outcome. So if you actually change your mindset around to say that failure is not the actual outcome, failure is just not trying, then you can actually really have fun with failure. As long as you tried something, you can’t say you failed. The one thing I can say my father did always tell us when we were kids is there is no such thing as “can’t” - we weren’t allowed to say that word. It was I can do something or I am currently struggling with doing something, it was never I can't do this or I can't do that. This really stuck in me and really helped me a lot with my success and my businesses.
Failure Can Be A Blessing
That’s the overall moral of the story. Another quote that I love by Jim Rohn is, “If it were not possible to fail, there will be no such thing as success.” It’s kind of like if there was no such thing as light, you'd never have darkness. That's a really great quote and a great way to think about it. So in your mind if you believe that failure is actually good, if you can actually train your mind to think that failure is actually good, how would your outcome change? How would your mindset change? What would you actually push yourself to achieve? If you believe that any failures were actually a successful experience rather than a failing experience, how much more would you dream? How bigger would you dream? How big would your goals actually be if you actually thought you couldn't fail? Failure can be good for many reasons. It does allow us to learn from our mistakes. Henry Ford says, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” If you take failure and turn that word around to be just a learning experience, you can learn so much from failing and from not succeeding at your dreams, tweak things, try again, and then just keep doing it until you finally succeed. Failure helps us to adapt, to change, become better, develop new tactics, new ways of doing things, and it helps us to really learn from our strengths and our weakness. What are we good at? What are we not good at? What do we need to change about our business? Really it helps to strengthen us for the next challenge, right? Every time you fail at something small, it will help you for the next time around if you have another failure or something else is going on in your business. As long as you keep persisting, as long as you have resilience and determination and you’re determined to never give up and never quit, you will always reach your goal. It's just a matter of when. I always say quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, quitting is like the end all be all. If you quit, you will definitely never succeed. But as long as you try and keep going, you will have success and you can look at failure as a setback or a setup for something better to come in your business.
The last quote that I will leave you with is, “Your attitude towards failure determines your altitude after failure,” and that’s by John C. Maxwell. Meaning, how high you will actually bounce back after failure, which is crucial. I hope all of this inspires you, motivates you, and changes your mindset a little bit about what failure really is and how necessary failure is for success. So the next time you fail, think of it not as a failure, but as a setup for something better in your business.
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