Fall seven times, stand up eight.- Japanese Proverb
Failure isn’t really something I give much thought to when I come up with a new idea and want to execute on it. I don’t let fear prevent me from trying something new (more often, I fear doing something that everyone else is doing). I don’t worry that I might make mistakes. Of course I will. Not only do I assume I’ll make mistakes, I count on it. Without mistakes, I wouldn’t be prepared for the “real stuff” when it comes along. Failure isn’t a consideration, though.
Have I failed? You bet. When I fail, I do so in a glorious blaze of disaster that spreads far and wide. People shake their heads in disappointment that I did so poorly. They chastise me for attempting something that was obviously futile-my failure proof of that (never mind the tautology in that argument). I believe only my parents and a few close friends accept my failures without much more than a murmur(I believe they secretly think as everyone else did, that I was nuts).
I don’t let this bother me. As you have no doubt read, or at least heard, failure is a pretty good learning tool. Those who fail perform better in future activities than those who don’t. That’s why the “A” student in high school does so poorly in college-they are not accustomed to failure and what it takes to avoid it. They are surprised and caught off guard by the challenges of college. High school jocks have the same problem; they are surprised that they are no longer hot shit and popularity requires more than just being able to score-a personality is needed.
On average, the most successful business leaders in the US have failed at seven previous businesses before actually being successful. That might sound bad, but banks love it. They prefer to lend to business people who have failed a few times. They are far more reluctant to lend to someone who hasn’t. This may all seem counter-intuitive if it weren’t for the simple fact that people who fail go out of their way to avoid failure again in the future. Who would you rather lend money to? Someone that knows how to avoid failure or some dopey-eyed nitwit that is fresh out of college with a shiny new MBA?
Failure means experience. Experience comes from doing. How many times have we heard, “It can’t be done.” and then someone goes out and does it? The person who “did it” probably failed at it several times before finally getting it right. Kudos for effort, but more kudos for sticking it out through the failures and missteps to actually find the solution.
People that fail don’t make excuses for their failure. Perhaps they hedge their remarks a bit (“My timing was off.”), but they still admit it was they who misjudged. They won’t make that mistake again. Therein lies the key: failure is fine, just don’t repeat it. Learn your lessons. Don’t be afraid to take chances and do something different. Even if you fail, you still gain valuable knowledge useful in future endeavors. Failure isn’t something to worry about or fret over. Accept that it may happen. Do what you can to prevent it, learn from it when you can’t.