When a business fails, it can feel like our whole world is falling apart. We may become excessively self-critical during such times, or even give up our plans out of a fear that we just can’t cut it in business. Failure is a natural part of entrepreneurship, however, and we shouldn’t let the failure of a business get us down. Here are just a few reasons why failure can be the best learning tool available to us.
Failure at a Task Doesn’t Equate to Failure as a Person
Too often, we’re excessively difficult on ourselves because we’ve grown up with the confused idea that failure at a particular task is a sign of personal failure. As an old saying goes, “Success is better, but it doesn’t make us better people. Failure is worse, but it doesn’t make us worse people.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to let a failed goal determine our future or make us judge ourselves too harshly. By understanding that failure is simply a byproduct of healthy risk-taking, we can better understand the need for positive thinking in our own approach to entrepreneurship.
No Truly Successful Person Ever Completely Avoided Failure
Whether it was Steven Spielberg getting rejected from the University of Southern California’s film school numerous times or Thomas Edison being told by his teachers that he was not intelligent enough to achieve anything in life, most truly successful people experienced multiple setbacks and failures before they reached their goals, according to a recent article in Business Insider.
The lesson we can take from the example of people like Spielberg and Edison? Had such people given up on their dreams after hitting a few rough patches, we’d have never heard of them, and they’d never have made a major impact on society. And that would have been the real tragedy.
Reframe Your Thinking
So how do successful people deal with failure? It turns out that perspective has a lot to do with it. Indeed, one of the key ways that successful people deal with challenges is by reframing their thinking about negative experiences. For example, try replacing the word “failure” in your vocabulary with the word “setback.” See how quickly a change in language can modify the perspective we might have on a problem? When we truly understand that failure is a waypoint rather than an endpoint in our life story, we can quickly pick ourselves up and move on to the next challenge. Things may go wrong in the future, but it’s important that we accept this possibility and accept ourselves in the process.
Big Companies Have Bad Moments, Too
When setting entrepreneurial goals, it’s important to remember that the biggest corporations can fail too. Take the example of Marvel Comics, which has suffered from low print sales in recent years. Even though Marvel has created some of the most famous comic book heroes in the world, with Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Iron Man numbering among the company’s most recognizable creations, the publisher still has its moments of trouble. Does that mean that Marvel will give up on its goal of bringing tales of heroism to its readers, however?
So far, the answer looks like a resounding “no” from the company. In fact, Marvel recently came back from a low publishing sales period in 2017 with an astonishing $1.3 billion in ticket sales for this year’s hit “Black Panther” film. Had Marvel packed it in after their comic sales took a fall last year, they may not have spent time in refocusing their energies on their film division, and it could have cost them big. Bouncing back from failure is not unique in business. Some fail two or even three times before getting it right.
You can use a period after a setback to reframe your goals and come back even stronger than before. Saving towards the establishment of a new business venture or getting the most out of your taxes for the coming year are two great ways to get a new foothold on your ambitions and help you build capital, for example.
For these reasons, you shouldn’t take failure as a reflection of your personal worth as a person. While it may sometimes seem like other important companies never experience any failures of their own, the truth is that most if not all successful enterprises have most likely struggled with enormous setbacks.
After all, if we don’t give ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, we’ll never take a swing for the fences when we’re finally up to bat. And not giving ourselves a chance at seeing through a dream is perhaps the only form of failure that can truly hurt us in the long run. So keep a positive attitude and return to the drawing board, as that is what being an entrepreneur is all about!
Failure is just one lesson in life. For 41 more lessons, check out my book here!