The Internet is full of people talking about failure. Whereas some use the term fail often or even fail more, others seem to resent the term failure as some kind of weakness or a sign people accept that it is okay to fail.
Now although I understand where both sides are coming from I feel the focus is in the wrong area. I have personally experienced both sides of this coin first hand when working around the world.
In my career, I worked for American companies on global teams and handled the Middle East region where the thinking around failure was simply a learning process, a stepping stone if, and this is the main point; if you acquired experience or bounced back from failure stronger. People admired this or celebrated your achievement and strength. In the UK however, things are very different.
In the UK people get very nervous if you say you had any failure in your career. Whether this was a business or a position you may have held, it is shunned and brushed under the carpet as if that experience defines you as a person, as in you are a failure! This is regardless of what you achieved after that experience.
I have, like everyone, had very dark moments in my personal and professional life and although they were frightening and even life-threatening at times I can tell you the person I came out the other side of each one of these moments is a stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced individual. These moments are not something you can learn on a course or in a book you have to go through them to gain experience that you have to use in the next part of your life. Failure is a single moment, something that is temporary if you have the right attitude or defeat if you allow it.
And this really is the key for me regarding failure, it is not whether a failure is something that should be shunned, hidden or even celebrated. It is the action that follows failure that is what defines us, it is what we do with that experience, hurt and even pain after a failure that is where the whole discussion should be focused. Because after failure, you have a choice to either believe you have a limit of what you can achieve in this life, or you learn from the experience and use it to propel yourself to greatness!
How many dreams have you let slip through your fingers because you were waiting for the perfect moment? Or are still waiting to be ‘ready’ to start something you want? In my home I have many sketchpads full of ideas, brands, business ideas and things I wanted to do all sketched out. Once in particular I remember once having an entire corporation drawn out from top to bottom with about seven or eight different product lines and revenue streams. All I needed to do was start with one of them in some shape or form. But I didn’t.
There isn’t a single month that goes by where at least one idea doesn’t come to my mind, most are just none starters but occasionally one shines amongst the rest and things just flow from that idea about how, why, where and which audience the idea would appeal to. But every time days stretch into weeks and months stretch into months before the idea is destined to sit on the book shelve forever. I would over think my ideas so much that I would either convince myself that it was never going to work or that I wasn’t ready or that I just couldn’t afford to do this at that moment.
Don’t get me wrong I have tried my own businesses before, more than once, and failed. The second time cost me practically everything I had ever worked for. It happened when the financial crash happened around the world. Yes it was probably one of the hardest things I ever went through. But I don’t believe in giving up. When I look back now at all of the things that didn’t work there are certain things each one helped in teaching me about myself as well as how not to make a business. I know now where my shortcomings are and I also know where my strengths are.
I have since started another business and I am looking at doing other things because if I have learned anything from my experiences there is no perfect time to start, there is no perfect way to begin a company. I started a social media community for collectors last year called Squirrol.com (after the most natural collector) I knew when I launched that it wasn’t perfect and things were not working the way I wanted but the best thing to do is to start. You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.
I have seen in the six months a community form and begin to grow. I have already had investors offering to partner with Squirrol which is amazing. The funny thing is when I look at the website all I see are the things I want to change or improve and realize if I had followed that train of thought I would still be working on the initial design. Whether Squirrol becomes a success or not is no longer important for me as I have learned so much in the process of starting this that it has been invaluable. Don’t get me wrong though I will do everything I can to make it work as I am very passionate about this community and giving collectors a place to meet, share, blog, and more things over the coming year.
So please don’t wait for the chance to start something, Take a chance on starting something whilst making changes on the journey ahead. Remember, the road to success is always under construction.
Sometimes in life things can look very bleak indeed. Whether it is on the macro level of global politics, war, famine and so on; or it is on the micro level about what we are facing as individuals like financial, career and love they are all obstacles that could very easily give us an excuse to stop.
Well that would be the easy option for sure, but like the famous quote from Winston Churchill says, “Success in not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Because, there is not a single person on this world that doesn’t have at least one, of the above issues, facing them at any one point in life. It all comes down to how we manage that horrible feeling of despair when we do.
Yes it can be a dark and frightening road when the lights suddenly go out on a relationship or your bank account seems to look like a speedometer in a car rapidly going the wrong way. But retreating back into your comfort zone is not going to change the situation. It would be nice to be able to hide from a problem so it goes away, but the truth is it is going to be waiting for you once you open your eyes as we can all vouch for in our lives.
Try not to be too hard on yourself when you face an issue in your life, most experiences in life, in the long run, will make you a better and stronger person so focus on what has happened, what this means to you in the long run and then see the way out by taking the single first step towards the answer. It may take a hundred steps to get there, but at least you will be moving and that is the ultimate difference between someone who is lost and someone who is on the journey of life, faced a bump or two and is making the best out of their life, regardless what happens along the way. Having that courage to take the fist step is what will bring you success and happiness in everything you do.
So you have failed a few times in many things you have tried? So what! I bet if you sit down and look very closely at what happened and the person you were before and after you will say, in many ways, you actually succeeded.
You are also in good company, because Thomas Edison used to say, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This was when he was experimenting on the filament of the light bulb. It took one moment of clarity, one second to put the right elements together but it also took the knowledge learnt in all those other experiments to know what wouldn’t work, only then could he see what would work.
Thomas Edison had over 1000 patents for inventions he created, including the lightbulb, phonograph and the motion picture camera. Some were not as successful but he is revered throughout history as a great man. Let us not forget that Edison was also quoted in saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Edison was an intelligent man, a genius. But there are many people in our world that do not have the intelligence of him, but they do share a common quality. The quality is that they were not afraid to fail, they were not afraid of what would happen if things didn’t work out the way they imagined, because lessons are still learnt when you try something.
So try, try and try again and anything and everything you have every wanted to do. Life is too short to waste your time wondering if you could. Don’t take it from me, as Edison put’s it in an even better way, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” Go on, try today!
Sometimes when you fail it can take away every ounce of your confidence. Literally drain you of all the positive energy that drives you forward in life. But if we look at people in the world who have achieved any amount of success we often rarely realize the success they obtained came out of many, many failures. I personally have failed many times at so many things in my career and even if life. But out of every single failure I learnt more about myself than any other experience could have taught me.
I have tried many business ventures in the past, some were bigger failures than others but each time I failed I never once looked at it as the end of the dream. I just picked myself up, dusted myself off and tried to look at all the reasons this happened. One could easily shy away from trying anything in the future but you can never give up on the dream you have, or else you are pretty much giving up on the person you are.
Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before creating the right chemical mix for the filament of the lightbulb. He claimed he never failed but rather found 2000 ways how NOT to make a lightbulb. Steve jobs, Richard Branson and even the powerhouse business man that is Donald Trump have all stared failure in the face before starting again with renewed vigor. Believe that you can achieve your dreams through every pitfall and barrier you face, because the truth is although you may fail many, many times; you will only need to be successful once in order to reach your dreams. And
The fear of failure has many names. You can call it procrastination if you want or any of the other countless names for not doing what you want to do in life. If you look at any successful person throughout history we always look at the accomplishments and the applause they have received for whatever they have done. But what few people realize is that for every success that, or any other, person has achieved they have failed countless times. But the difference between them and a person who doesn’t try is that they look at failure as a learning process and not the end.
In advertising I have won over 30 awards and I know many, many creatives I admire that have won a lot more, and at the major shows. Every single one of them, including me, has made some true howlers on work in the past. It sometimes even happens today but that is because if you want to grow, if you want to improve your abilities in anything in life; you have to accept failure as part of your training or learning, especially if you want to be the best you can possibly be at something.
Because we can all look at the best people in something we would like to achieve and say, “I’ll never be that good!” try saying to yourself that you will be as good as you can possibly be and that person is a person I will strive to be as good as. Be the best that YOU can be and you will soon find yourself growing at a rate you never dreamed you could. Be positive and take every failure as another valuable lesson on the road to success. Good luck, I for one, support you.