“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” ~ Bill Gates
Bouncing back from failure can be one of life’s hardest challenges. Failure can make one feel beaten and precipitate a period of doubt and even depression. Picking yourself up and dusting off the remnants of defeat, however, is paramount to future success.
Very few entrepreneurs, if any, have been able to achieve great success without first failing. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney… the list goes on and on. All of the great names in history had to deal with defeat before they were able to become the global icons they now are. Learning from their experiences can help you put your own failure in perspective.
The following tips can help you turn your failure into a learning experience that you can benefit from. Failure doesn’t need to define you.
Allow yourself time to grieve
Any great loss requires a grieving period before you can adequately move on. Your business is no different. Allow yourself time to feel the feelings associated with your failure. Running from those emotions or trying to push them as far away as possible will leave you in an emotionally vulnerable position.
Re-evaluate your plan
Failure is worthless if you don’t learn from the experience. Re-evaluate your plan and determine where things went wrong. Was your business plan flawed? Did your marketing efforts fail to live up to expectations? Was the industry climate the wrong time to launch your business? Any failure you experience can teach you valuable lessons that can lead to future success if you are able to determine what went wrong.
Know what you hope to achieve
Evaluate your expectations and determine what success looks like. Unreasonable expectations are a sure fire way to experience failure. Make sure that you clearly define success and then determine if that is reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you even begin.
Own your mistakes
Don’t make excuses for your failure. An explanation of what went wrong can be very helpful, but don’t offer up any excuses. It can be normal to feel defensive when you are down, but blaming other people or chalking failure up to forces you cannot control will often leave you stuck. Figure out what went wrong and then own it.
Pay attention to your self-talk
We are often far harder on ourselves than is necessary or healthy. Failure can shake your confidence and lead to negative self-talk. Calling yourself a failure or refusing to cut yourself any slack is not only damaging, it can leave you spinning your proverbial wheels. Optimism and persistence are two character traits that virtually all successful people share. Monitor your self-talk and make sure you are sending yourself the right messages.
Know what makes you happy
Your business is only one facet of your life. Understanding what makes you happy beyond your business can help you stay focused on the big picture. Determine what makes you happy? Make a gratitude list of things beyond business that are important to you. Oftentimes, it is what happens when we aren’t at work that makes us the happiest. Understanding that can help you foster an attitude of gratitude that can be a beacon during your tough times.
Keep a good sense of humor
The person that cannot laugh at themselves is often very unhappy. Sure, failure is not a laughing matter, especially when you are right in the midst of it. Being able to laugh at yourself, however, can help you keep a positive attitude and a good perspective.
Have a prevention plan
Once you determine what went wrong, develop a plan to prevent repeat results. What do you need to do to succeed with future endeavors? How can you run things differently the next time around? You need to know what to do and not do in order to learn from your failure. Use it as a teaching moment and determine your best course of action.
Get back on the horse
Failure can understandably leave you a bit gun shy, but you will get nowhere if you don’t get up and try again. J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame was rejected over a dozen times before her manuscript was finally published. Abraham Lincoln’s life before his presidency was riddled with failure. The people that successfully learn from their initial failures are successful now because they got back up. Don’t let one failure derail your plans.
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” ~ John Wooden