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There exists something in this world, a condition of sorts, to which none of us are immune. In fact, it’s sitting inside of all of us right now, dormant, perhaps just waiting to strike. It can hit us at any time, with no warning, when we least expect it. Sometimes we’re overcome by it when things in our lives seem to be running the most smoothly. The condition, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, is failure.
Lucky for us, it’s not fatal.
Failure is an easily treatable condition if caught early enough. Here are some tips on how to overcome failure once you’ve been diagnosed.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail,” -Confucius
Once failure has struck–which it inevitably will in some form in your life–one must not let it bog them down. It might be easy to back into a corner, tell yourself that you’ve failed, your business is done, and you’ll never get back on your feet, but step one in overcoming failure is accepting that it’s happened and moving forward.
Dusting yourself off and getting back on track is the only thing that can breed success, no matter what industry you’re in or trying to get into. Dwelling on these failures and letting them embarrass you will ensure that you don’t (and can’t) move forward with future endeavors. As General George Custer said, “it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.” Making sure you pull yourself up by the bootstraps after a failure is more important than the fact that you failed in the first place.
However, you did fail after all, which isn’t all bad because you can always…
Pull out the Positives
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford.
Often called “failing forward,” this second step of beating failure is absolutely imperative.
It’s not easy to look at a creation that has failed, be it a business plan, invention or otherwise, and see it as nothing other than a failure. However, trying to pull out the positives from the experience of a failure is more important than the failure itself. So your product may not have flown off the shelves at the rate you and your investors hoped it would. Now ask yourself why. Ask why your product undersold and what you could do differently in the future to prevent yourself from falling in this pit again.
Got it? Now do it. Failure is never the end. When I founded Bambu White Rum in October of 2007 in the hopes of creating the first line of super-premium white rums in the nation, I had high hopes. I wanted to revolutionize the alcohol industry. Now, Bambu White Rum is defunct, not having sold as highly as I would have liked. So am I out of the alcohol industry now? You’re absolutely right I’m not. After the failure of Bambu, I learned from my mistakes and capitalized on the market, going on to start three of the most successful businesses I’ve been in to date- Bulldog Gin, Skinnygirl Cocktails and NUVO. The reason I was able to move forward after my failure was because I pulled out the positives and used them in my future endeavors.
Learn and Let It Motivate You
“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” -Bill Gates
Ultimately, the only cure for failure is success. And although it isn’t always the first thing you try after you’ve found out you failed, it’s often the remedy that gets the job done. That’s why learning from your failure and allowing it to motivate you is the key takeaway from this post.
Failure shouldn’t be used only as a metaphorical large octagonal stop sign indicating what not to do, it should be used as a stepping stone that vaults you into future successes. You should allow your past failures to motivate change, be it on a personal or business level.
So if you have been weighed down by a diagnosis of failure, keep your chin up. Try treating it with a positive attitude and a drive towards success. The side effects are minimal.
Not quite at this stage yet? Check out David Kanbar’s Three Mistakes to Avoid When Starting your Business, or 5 Signs You Are on the Path to Success for more tips for entrepreneurs.