Success and Not Giving UpCredit: Heinzmarketing

Reflecting back on my life I have had my share of successes and failures.  The only reason why I had succeeded is because I had to fail the first couple or several times.  People sometimes take failure the hard way and I think if we all change how we view and feel about failure, then becoming successful won't be so hard.

So to become successful you have to face failure head on and appreciate it as part of life and learning.  Here are 5 ways to overcome failure.

1) Failure is a learning experience

 I am a firm believer of lifelong learning and one of the ways people learn most effectively is from failing. People can teach the methods and the theory but until someone actually does it themselves, the lessons do not fully sink in. 

At my old job when I started out, I worked for a company that placed a high demand on accuracy.  The month end reports we created was sent to the clients for analysis, and so if the numbers were incorrect, the client could be making misinformed decisions.  To make the gravity of the situation even heavier, people have been fired for making blatant mistakes.   Someone had taught me how to do my job, sitting down and explaining the procedures, and I kept descent notes too.  But when it came down to performing the job, there were parts in my notebook that just made absolutely no sense to me.  It wasn’t until I screwed up the processes a few times and the manager had to give me a good talk that I finally smartened up.

I had to screw up on the client reports a couple times before I finally learned new ways to make my job easier.  I came up with new processes that basically made me look good and helped me find a new job. 

In the world of tech. startups, investors will not put money into the startup unless they know the founders have failed a few times before.  The reason is because people can learn from their mistakes from their first startup failures.

Depending on how you look at failure, you can either learn from it or drown in it. 

2) Failure helps you be humble

 I have met people who have become cocky because they think they know everything, and act like they are the smartest people in the world.  Maybe they are smart but it doesn’t give these people the right to be snobby.  It wasn’t until they failed that they finally realized they are just like everyone else. 

Failure isn’t a bad thing because it reminds you to be grounded and that you are not better than everyone else. 

3) Failure, people do it all the time

Failing is not the end of the world.  There is no shame in failure.  Remember you are just one among many that have failed before you.  

Abram Lincoln was a pretty unsuccessful politician before he became president.  He ran to be speaker of the state legislature and lost, to become elector and lost, ran for a seat in Congress and lost, US senate and lost.  He also was an unsuccessful business early on in his career as well. 

Thomas Edison was a complete failure too before he invented the light bulb.  His teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything. 

Walt Disney was fired as a newspaper editor.  He went bankrupt several times before his Mickey Mouse design gained popularity.

Robin Williams in high school was voted as someone “least likely to succeed”.   

4) Failure could be a wakeup call

Sometimes failing could be a wakeup call for what you really want to do in life.  If you have ever failed at something, ask yourself if you really wanted it in the first place, or if someone was pressuring you to go for it.

Perhaps the passion wasn’t there or you need to revise the game plan.  Henry Ford had to tweak his business six times and fail five times before finally finding his success.  Everyone at one point or another will reach a stage in life when they have to decide whether to continue what they are doing or take a step back and reassess their goals.

Pat Flynn, is an online entrepreneur, where he found success through unconventional ways.  He started out in the architecture world and was gaining momentum in his career, when all of a sudden he was given a notice that he will be laid off in a few months.  Initially, he applied to other architecture jobs and was unsuccessful.  Realizing that his architecture was a closed door he took a leap into online entrepreneurship and became very successful at it.  Also, he never had any prior experience before jumping into online entrepreneurship.  He lived and breathed architecture.  

I’m not saying that people should be like him but Pat Flynn is one example of someone who had one door closed and through a bit of soul searching, found his own door.

5) Failure toughens you

People’s characters are often developed through stress and being uncomfortable.  When people get too comfortable they don’t want to learn, don’t want to push ourselves, and their lives become stagnant.

Failing the first time is always the hardest because it is unexpected and we haven’t learned ways to deal with failure.  But after each failure we learn ways to cope and methods to handle it.  Failure is not an end game it is just a process to get to the end point.  That’s why failure is a great way to learn perseverance and toughness.  

So, think of failure in this way.  It makes the end goal all that much sweeter because you have to push yourself harder.  Through the process you will grow and become stronger.  The real reward is learning what you had overcome from your failure. 

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

- Michael Jordan