“Failure is NOT an option,” says many an entrepreneur. But that’s just a lie; failure is always an option. Every entrepreneur has failed at many things. Everybody fails.
In business, and for every entrepreneur, failure has been a critical part of their path to success (whether they remember it or not). Failing gracefully and learning from failure is much more important than saying that it simply can’t happen.
One entrepreneur I worked with was convinced that he had a killer idea for an app. He spent tens of thousands of dollars developing it only to discover that a major company launched their version while he was still working on it.
Rather than bang his head against a wall and continue along his planned path, he quickly changed gears and applied his energy to a new, related project. He was able to recover some of his investment from the first app rather than lose it all by going blindly forward with his original plan. By recognizing that he simply couldn’t compete against a major player, he turned failure into a new opportunity.
My client joined the ranks of some pretty great people who know that failure is always an option, and not something of which to be ashamed:
“For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”
— Mary Kay Ash
“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”
— George Bernard Shaw
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
— Thomas Edison
So next time you feel like a failure, or stop yourself from doing something because you might fail, don’t blow it off by repeating mantras like “failure is not an option.” Don’t continue blindly, dedicated to avoiding failure. Instead, honor your failures, learn from them, and remember that if you aren’t failing at anything, then you aren’t trying anything.
About the Author
Virginia Ginsburg is founder and chief consultant at Swell Strategies. She is passionate about supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and running successful enterprises. She has worked with more than 100 entrepreneurs over the last 10 years from start-ups to 30-year-old businesses.