I fail everyday. I fail to keep my cool and composure. I fail to stop and see the big picture. I fail to stop failing.
I’ve heard it said “failure is not an option,” “failure is for the weak,” “only the strong succeed,” etc. They are all wrong…to a point. One thing I have learned about failure, as an entrepreneur, is that if you aren’t failing, you aren’t working hard enough. If you are a person driven to succeed and place 120% and then another 120% into what you are passionate about, you will fail. Failure is part of the learning process, it’s part of being an entrepreneur. To stop working hard and striving for improvement is the true failure; but, there will be plenty of small failures along the way. So, to dispel the myth that failure is in total a horrible outcome, here are three lessons I have learned from failure.
Strength – As a spiritual person, I have learned that you have to surrender. Surrender can seem like such a weak word. To give up control is not engrained in our entrepreneurial business culture, let alone our popular culture. But, I have learned that to surrender takes strength. To admit that it is time to find a better way often takes the focus off the problem at hand and places the focus onto a better solution. As an entrepreneur, many times I have seen scenarios where other business owners continually bang their head against the brick wall when the ladder to hurdle themselves over the brick wall is only a few inches away. Have you ever had this happen in your business? The problem is that we, as entrepreneurs, let ego get in the way of making a sound and solid decision to stop, to fail and re-address the situation. To take ego out of the equation takes strength.
Clarity / Focus – Just as in the example above, when the focus becomes so strong on the problem, we lack the clarity to see the solution. To admit that the current course of action is doomed to failure we can adjust, with new focus, on the solution to our problem. As entrepreneurs, clarity and focus are two of our greatest allies. We should arm those around us with the tools to assist us in our battles, as we take in the bigger picture with clarity and focus. We need to know when the time comes to call an endeavor a failure so that we can re-adjust our tactics to find clarity on a new solution. How many times have you heard of a business endeavor that could not find a solution to a particular “need” and then when the dust settled and the focus was taken off the problem, the business endeavor solved a different “need.” This only can happen when you admit failure to one solution path and open up the focus to seek out other solution paths.
A Renewed Sense of Energies – Finally throwing in the towel can provide a sense of renewed energies. These renewed energies provide us with the momentum to propel us forward versus being stuck in the negative quagmire. As we realize that the negative downward spiral has too strong a grip on our emotions, we need to place a stop in the spiral. Once we have stepped far enough away from the grips of the failure, we have just surrendered too, we can notice that our energies become stronger with time. Part of the renewed energies come from our renewed clarity and focus and our belief that we can succeed begins to grow. Have you ever noticed that when you finally admit that a course of action is not the right one and you clear your mind of the negative effects of that course of action, you feel ready to revisit the problem in a new fashion?
Now I am not advocating consistent failure with no efforts to work at solutions. To the contrary, you must know when failure is the best option to move forward with strength, clarity, focus and renewed energies. How will you know when this time is right to call it “quits” with a course of action? Place together a failure option map. Yes, chart out your possibility of failure. No, I am not asking you to focus on failure, just acknowledge where and when it might pop up. In reality, you may realize that as you narrow in on failure, you may come to the conclusion before the failure actually needs to be admitted that a new course of action needs to be taken. As much as we need to have a success road map, we need to know when it is time to re-direct our efforts.
I hope these lessons I have learned will serve you well. Failure is an option…stopping your momentum forward is not.