Experience Is The Best Teacher: How To Make Successes Out Of Your Failures
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” - Simon Sinek
Thinking about becoming an entrepreneur? Worried about becoming successful? Terrified of failure? Don’t be. Success is amazing– and so is failure.
Failing is nothing to be ashamed of. The more you fail, the better you’ll get. The faster you stumble, the sooner you’ll learn to get up. The harder you fall, the stronger you’ll be when you stand up again.
It’s unfortunate that in the Middle East and other parts of the world, setbacks in entrepreneurship are considered embarrassing. I fail to understand why, because every time I’ve failed at something –and I have, many times– I've been able to learn something new. Each time something went wrong, I was able to identify a flaw in my thinking process, a potential improvement in my product, a particular obstacle I hadn’t foreseen, or even a weakness in myself. I could discover something I didn’t know before, and that can only be a good thing.
Based on my experience, here are some ground rules on making successes out of your failures:
1. Do not fear it It’s terrifying– the prospect of failing at something you put your heart and soul into. The fact is, it’s waiting for you at some point, and dreading it will not deflect it. Instead, gather up every drop of your courage and think, ‘If I fail, I fail, but I won’t fail without giving it my best shot.’ Fear is only going to hold you back from being the best at what you do. When you embrace fear, you are actually embracing all the opportunities that come with it. Freeing yourself of the dread is only going to make you feel better about the decision you’ve made to be an entrepreneur. Think of failure not as an option, but as the necessary step towards success. That way, it becomes less intimidating.
2. Learn from it Don’t fall into the trap of wallowing in your misery when you face a setback, or when things don’t turn out as you expected them to. Instead, look at why it happened. How can you improve your approach so that you can avoid making the same mistakes again? Has anyone else been through this, and what did they do about it? Is this actually an insight or opportunity cloaked as a failure? Experience is your best teacher– make the most of it.
3. Own your mistakes Sir James Dyson, the brain behind the world’s first bag-less vacuum cleaner, had to improvise on 5,126 prototypes of his idea before he finally hit gold. It took him 15 years of identifying mistakes, and working on them to get there. Now, the thing is, I get how embarrassing it is to fail. I really get it. But you know how you can regain control of the situation? Own your mistakes. Own your failure. Take the upper hand. That way, you are taking responsibility for its consequences, and equipping yourself to learn from it. When you find the courage to do this, you can objectively analyze what went wrong, where, and how. That can only be a good thing. Face up to your failure– it is an incredible learning opportunity.
4. Don’t get personal This is life. This is business. Everyone’s hustling, everyone’s falling, and everyone’s winning. You are a part of the rat race, and you will have to go through its cycle of ups and downs. But this is only work– this is not you. You are that person who is bigger than this failure, and better than this mistake. Live up to who you are and your full potential. You know when things should get personal? Never. Don’t get emotionally attached– this will pull you down, and destroy your spirit. Take everything in stride, and move on.
Failure is inevitable. The cultural stigma associated with it is unfortunate and shortsighted. You have to risk, learn, and risk again, in order to gain something. In today’s can-do business culture, we need to deconstruct the notion that failure is something you must avoid at all costs. It is not an ultimatum– it's a step forward. Hundreds of thousands of people around us have shown us that we can learn from our mistakes. So, accept that failure is waiting for you. Are you going to stop dead in your tracks because you’re afraid to face it? Then you’re not going to grow. Success and failure are a package deal– take both, or take none.