Failure is the best teacher. It’s an essential part of a career path. If you haven’t failed, you probably aren’t pushing your boundaries, which means you’re most likely stagnant. Pull yourself out of that stagnation by taking risks, having a bias for action, owning up to your mistakes, and learning from them for future reference.
10 thought leaders talk about a time they failed, as well as their top tips for overcoming failure.
There’s Always Something to Learn
I fail all the time. One experience that really stands out is when I went to my first trade show. I lost so much money. I went home and cried. I was defeated. But, the next day I got up and fought. I grabbed a piece of paper and pen and wrote down what I could do better next time. There is always something to learn, especially with a failure.
Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
Our full-service dental lab offers Flexible Partials for a reason. What is that reason? When a partial denture breaks, the most common cause is a failure by the patient to come in for a denture repair or rebase. Oftentimes in life, a failure to take action results in failure as well. To overcome failure, there needs to be flexibility at the forefront of an anticipated situation. When you’re rigid, you can’t adapt as well and failure is more likely. But when you’re flexible, there’s more room for error and less action is required to persevere.
Henry Babich, Stomadent Dental Laboratory
Keep the Central Mission in Mind
There are many ups and downs in an adoption journey. It is important to keep in mind that at every step of the way, adoption is about the baby, the birth parents, and the adoptive family. It’s personal. And we make it that way so that each adoption is successful. Whenever any person, organization, or business is facing a stressful situation, it is important to keep the central mission in mind.
Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center
An Opportunity to Innovate
In my eyes, failure really only exists if you have a fixed viewpoint about how something must turn out. I had a keynote speaking gig where I got the worst, most stinging feedback. Fortunately, a speaker with a much bigger reputation than mine said to me, “Don’t worry about having everyone like you. Aim to delight 20% of the people.” That’s served me well. Even when things go “wrong,” it’s an opportunity to be innovative and do them differently in the future.
Susan Bernstein, DrSusanBernstein.com
Failure Creates New Opportunities
You cannot succeed in business without failure. Failures teach us new lessons, provide new opportunities and encourage us to do better.
There have been multiple times in my career where something failed… usually related to a product launch. As entrepreneurs, we often know what customers need… but we can’t always sell that. We need to sell what customers need AND want. When a product launch fails, it gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate that product, a chance to talk to your prospects and customers to see what they really want, and the opportunity to be creative with the next product.
Lisa Schulteis, ElectraLime Marketing
Just Get in the Water
A shorter list might be times I didn’t fail. Especially in marketing, there are rarely home runs, every “successful” thing we do is an iteration on a bunch of failures. One that comes to mind is that I’ve created no less than 3 programs that I never ran. Up until about a month ago that weighed heavily on my ego. Eventually, I realized that I actually don’t have any desire at all to run a program, which probably has a lot to do with why I would never market them.
My top “tip” for overcoming failure is to change how you view something that doesn’t go as planned, & lower expectations when trying something completely new. The concept of “just get in the water” from Daring Greatly is one way to get started with something out of your comfort zone.
Brandy Lawson, Business Advisor & Marketing Consultant
Allow Change to Motivate You
I’ve always wanted to work for myself. While working in the city, I had little to no time to build my personal brand and market myself. Due to the current chaos, I was made redundant. It was the biggest career shock I’ve had – ever. While it was a shame, I am more than ever motivated and have made more progress than possible before. Now I have a choice other than to work for myself, and I have so much time to do so. No commute = so many gained hours of personal/business development time.
Caitlin Senior, caitlinsenior.com
Guilt vs Shame
There is a profound difference between guilt and shame. Guilt says “this happened and it was bad” while shame says “this happened because I am bad.” Guilt is healthy while shame is paralyzing. I have failed spectacularly and there was no one to blame but myself. I took responsibility for the outcome and adjusted my behavior so it wouldn’t happen again while not allowing it to affect the deeper narrative of who I was or what I was worth.
Lukas Ruebbelke, BrieBug
Don’t Take It Personally
I have failed on some occasions from not clearly communicating my vision, idea, or solution. Then any questions that arose I took as resistance and opposition. Top tip: communicate clearly and don’t take things personally.
Bob Combs, Execution Matrix LLC
Learn About Yourself
You learn more about yourself through failure than through success, look at it as an opportunity for growth and know that it will help shape you for the opportunity that you were really meant for.
Rex Murphey, Montauk Services