In business, failure isn’t something negative but something necessary. Not only that, but the way that you look at your failures and how to deal with them can be the key to success.
“Try. Fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
The above quote is from Samuel Beckett, and is one of my all-time favorite quotes. Other quotations about failure tend to focus more on failure as a path to success, such as “If at once you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That failure is a necessary burden on the road to success.
I prefer Beckett’s approach, because he doesn’t see failure as a burden, or a barrier. He sees it as something positive in and of itself. It is something that is desirable. And this is an attitude that I’ve sought to implement in my own life.
Failure is absolutely essential to success. Nobody achieves real success, without facing failure along the way. As I noted in a previous article, the statistics about 80% of entrepreneurs failing is due primarily to most people giving up when they face failure. The 20% of entrepreneurs who are successful didn’t get that way by not failing…they got that way by failing over and over again, until they figured out how to be successful.
Many people have a tremendous fear of failure…that it is something shameful, as if it’s proof of weakness or inability on their part. When talking about their failures, they do so with a face reddened by embarrassment, if they talk about it at all.
It is those failures that ultimately define their success! It shows the difficulties they surmounted—difficulties that stopped other people—in order to become successful.
One of the biggest differences that I’ve found in successful entrepreneurs is that not only are they not embarrassed or shamed by their failures, but they are proud of them, and will even brag about them! Read autobiographies of some of the most successful people in any field, and you’ll most likely find them dedicating quite a bit of time to talking about the mistakes and failures that they made along the way.
Because it is those failures that ultimately define their success! It shows the difficulties they surmounted—difficulties that stopped other people—in order to become successful. It demonstrates their determination, and their ability to learn and adapt.
I attended an entrepreneur mastermind event in the U.S. several years ago, with a very highly successful entrepreneur as the guest speaker, Dan Kuschell, who has not only started a number of multi-million-dollar businesses, but has been a mentor/advisor to many other highly successful entrepreneurs. One of the things that struck me the most was what he does with his kids. Every day, at dinner, everyone has to state their biggest failure of the day, why they failed, and what they’re going to do the next time the same thing happens. Then everyone else applauds or praises them.
To me, this is absolutely incredible, and gives his kids a huge advantage over so many others. They are growing up in an environment where there is no embarrassment about failure, and where the focus is on what they can learn and how they can do better.
So, my challenge to everyone reading this: if you don’t already do this, start developing an attitude where you see your failures as something positive, as something to brag about when you talk with others, rather than feeling embarrassed or ashamed. As long as you are learning from those failures, and improving, then you have every right to be proud…because most people would have given up when they faced that situation, but you haven’t!