Yes, you read that right. You are allowed to fail. More than once, or even ten times, in fact .
Elon Musk, who was recently declared the richest man in the world, motivates his employees before a project by telling them that in his team, “Failure is an option. If things are not failing, then you are not innovating enough.”
We have been led to believe that success is a destination, which you arrive at because you are continuously successful and have followed all the right routes to get there. But that is not the case.
When people tell you about Bill Gate’s net worth, people often forget to mention how Microsoft, the computer software that revolutionized the tech world was born out of a project called Traf-O-data, that crashed and burned because it just was not working. When you are looking forward to hearing about Elon Musk’s next crazy project because of the buzz around Tesla and Space X, you barely hear about how only a few years ago he had gone completely bankrupt and that his projects were barely hanging by a thread. How launch after launch was constant failure each almost worse than the one before. How about Richard Branson, who qualifies to be considered an investment guru with over 400 companies under his Virgin Atlantic Industries belt. Would you believe that he has several companies that barely ever survived in the market because they were complete failures?
The point is, having a crazy business idea, starting and establishing that business, is all risky business. Sometimes solving one problem often leads to the creation of a million more problems and the cycle never ends. If you do not have the grit to push through and rise above the trauma of it all, you will feel like a complete failure and maybe even resign yourself to the belief that maybe entrepreneurship just isn’t for you. You end up disheartened, not to mention burdened by the stress that comes with the losses, whether it is money, trust or even your social standing.
Well if you are at this point or have been there, I’m here to tell you that it’s not over at all. In fact, it is just the beginning! Thomas Edison, famous inventor said, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.” Failure does not mean the end of the world, rather it is a stepping stone towards the right direction. Famous New York Times best selling Author, Mark Manson says that in life, there is never really a right answer. We basically move from being wrong to being slightly less wrong and slightly less wrong than that every next time. Isn’t that why even software has to constantly be upgraded? Because what worked before doesn’t cut it anymore.
You therefore cannot allow yourself to be paralyzed by the fear of inevitable failure. In any case, what should scare you more is the possibility of never achieving your goals and vision. Think about what gets you out of bed in the morning, is it simply making enough money to live comfortably, or do you feel that you have the potential to change the world and be a household name? If it is money, then you can never be successful, because you have no control over the economy neither over market demand both of which are constantly shifting. However if you have identified a gap that you just know that deep down in your bones and chromosomes you have to fill or your life will have been a waste, then your perspective on failure will take a complete 360 degree turnaround.
It will help you figure out, who has set the standards of what failure means to you. Is it society? Your family? Your level of education? Then you can take a closer look at what exactly those so called parameters that measure whether you have failed or succeeded are. Is it simply meeting your sales goals and not getting into debt, or seeing more and more people identifying with your brand? Are you failing and learning from it towards progress, or are you continuously taking the safe road and stagnating at being averagely good enough. Remember that the avoidance of failure does not necessarily guarantee success.
Take caution though, this is not an excuse to use anytime you feel like you are not moving forward. If you’re going to fail, fail the right way. Deep dive into everything that went wrong and make notes that will help you see why that did not work and start working on correcting it. Invest in yourself too. Warren Buffet insists that you are your own main product, constantly work on honing your craft, learn even more new skills and never stop being curious about the world around you. So your business failed, work on something else, or find even better ways to do it. You are not your business. Your business is you.
It may be difficult and at times severely heartbreaking, but if it was easy, then everyone would be a billionaire. It is better to have short term discomfort and long term gains than live in the misery of wondering ‘what if you had stuck with it a little longer?’ and if you’re stuck wondering how to begin again, waiting for inspiration or motivation to pour over you from the magical world of ideas, here is a nugget of wisdom we all need to constantly remind ourselves, “If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”
Success is about going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm -Winston Churchill.
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