5 Steps for Bouncing Back After You Fail
Entrepreneurship is an ongoing series of ups and downs. Whether you’re a newbie banking on each and every sale and loss or a veteran dealing in big numbers and packages -- this journey is anything but stable and easy.
Of course, we love what we do. And it makes the rollercoaster totally worth it. But that doesn’t take away from the intensity of tough emotions we face when failure does hit. Whether it's a big client proposal that ended in a no, a longer phase of feeling scarcity in your company or a publishing deal you were sure you had and fell through at the last minute, these moments of failure aren’t easy.
We all face these moments. It's inevitable and every failure is a learning opportunity. The question becomes not how can we avoid failure but rather how can we get an energetic rebound when we are in a total slump? Or how can we best learn from this failure to succeed better next time?
If you have hit a wall and feel like you’ve been knocked down, you have a choice. Either let it take a serious toll on your confidence, drive and energy or get back up and turn things around. You take the lessons and the experience, you take care of yourself, and use all of it to make you better moving forward.
I’m no stranger to failure and discouragement in my own business. That’s why I’ve developed five steps which help me get back on track and bounce back even stronger when I feel like I've failed.
1. Be aware of your self-talk.
When you fall into self-judgment, criticism or even bad habits like name calling or labeling yourself, you’ll end up held down with negative energy. We’re all way too hard on ourselves.
Instead of letting that inner dialogue run the show, take note of it, and take a moment to give yourself some empathy. Try congratulating yourself on something you’ve done well recently and breathe into the fact that you are a human being with wins and losses. And this too will pass. The Mayo Clinic published a study only last year titled “Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress,” in which they explain that negative self-talk is detrimental to your stress management and even your health, citing a longer lifespan and better cardiovascular health. They also discuss ways to identify negative thinking and put positive thinking into practice.
2. Ask for support.
Every entrepreneur needs a network of people they can trust and can call when they feel low. This is essential to success. If you don’t have it already, focus on putting together a tribe of people who love you -- the kind of people who don’t compete with you and who love and honor you. Take a moment to think about who these people are for you. And when you’re struggling, don’t be shy to reach out and get support.
One option for creating this tribe is to consider joining a mastermind of like-minded entrepreneurs or one who are in a similar industry. A mastermind is defined as “a peer-to-peer mentoring concept used to help members solve their problems with input and advice from the other group members.” The concept of a mastermind group was actually introduced by Napoleon Hill in his 1925 book, The Law of Success. Focus on finding a mastermind group which best fits your specific goals and industry.
3. Take some space.
Sometimes we need to step away from our businesses to gain perspective. Take a day off work, and go golfing or to the spa. Give yourself little a break from all of the noise and stress. Ideally, build activities into your regular schedule which allow you to reorient and recharge -- then get back in the game. When you make a practice of taking nourishing breaks, the failures won’t feel so tough.
A famous example of someone taking a longer break and coming back stronger than before is when Steve Jobs left Apple. When he rejoined the company, they skyrocketed.
4. Start a journaling practice.
On a particularly rough day, your journal can be the ideal outlet. Write down all of your thoughts, and be real about what you’re feeling. No need to filter yourself there. It’ll feel good to put your feelings into words.
Writing is powerful because it has been proven to boost your mood, help you manage stress, lower symptoms of depression, and even improve your memory. Check out these and many more amazing benefits of journaling in this article from the Positive Psychology Program.
5. Ask good questions.
One of the practices I learned early in my entrepreneurial path is to ask myself good questions like, “What is this really teaching me?” Or “What am I aware of that I’m pretending not to be?” When you come from a space of inquiry instead of assumption, suddenly you can see beyond the chaos of your mind and get some clarity and perspective.
There is an art to asking good questions, the right questions to get you thinking as opposed to the same ones which got you here. There have even been some great TEDx Talks on the subject. Check out these videos by Mike Vaughan, David Stork, Michael (VSauce) Stevens and Dan Moulthrop to get you started asking better questions.
When it comes to failure, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Everyone will reach a low point in their business at some point. Who you’re being to yourself and how you handle these low points will have a direct correlation to how you get back up and come back better than ever.
The beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is that we’re always willing to try something new and different. With this mindset, the possibilities are limitless. If you’re struggling right now, try these steps and trust that you’ll get back up sooner than you think.