Why School Gets Failure Wrong
And why failure should be an entrepreneur’s number one priority
We’re taught by societal indoctrination that failure is bad. Absorb the information whether by listening or reading, and spit it back out. If you spit it back out in the exact way it went in, then great, you didn’t fail! The dreaded F will will you in trouble at home, and enough of them will have you repeating the same grade. What shame!
We’re conditioned that failure is bad. If you fail, that means you’re stupid and worthless. Only losers fail.
“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” -Henry Ford
“The only failure is not trying.” -Robin Sharma
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” -Woody Allen
I have two businesses, one I opened in June 2020 and the other in March 2021. I fail CONSTANTLY! Holy crap do I fail! I could sit and mope every time a freebie doesn’t hit a big audience, or when a post gets low engagement, or when I haven’t sold a candle in 2 weeks.
I could beat myself up with thoughts that I’m a terrible coach, my candles are ugly, everybody hates me, I don’t deserve successful businesses, and that I’d rather die. Those thoughts would lead to results that confirm my beliefs: zero movement in my businesses.
Entrepreneurs aren’t business owners, they’re scientists, too. They think of new ideas for their businesses, they test those ideas whether short-term or long-term, they gather data, and they form conclusions. Though, I hesitate to use the word conclusion, because this field of work is never “conclusive.” If something I try works the way I intended, I don’t “conclude” it because I’m still looking for ways to make it even better.
Failure is the road to success. When I registered my coaching LLC., I was coming into it with 5 clients. Once I officially opened for business, I didn’t have another client for months… and I mean months. I’ll admit, a while later I thought that I jumped the gun on paying for a business license, but never did I have the thought that I failed.
What might feel like failure is only a lesson. What I learned with my LLC was that high emotion doesn’t warrant an impulsive decision. I hadn’t even finished my first coaching certification, and I was in the process of signing up for a coach mastery certification right afterwards and would take another year to complete. I was so excited that I actually had some clients that I thought I needed to go balls to the wall and do the whole shebang.
Business does not survive on emotion.
You WILL survive failure every single time, despite the uncomfortable feeling of something not working as you’d hoped it would. And hey, this includes relationships. I have a good amount of ex’s, but I learned plenty about myself and other people in every single one of those experiences- even the very short-lived ones.
Enjoy failing! And if failing is too traumatic of a word for you (and no shock if it is because of societal conditioning), simply redefine “success.”
If you’ve been hesitant to fail, give yourself the challenge of failing at one thing every day for the next week. Or really go for it, and aim for 5 failures every day! These exercises can be as simple and silly or as bold and brave as you want. Do you always run the same distance every day? Then double it! Have you always wanted to make a soufflé but knew you’d fail anyways? Tonight’s the night to give it a whirl! Just slap the gooey failure onto some ice cream and rename the dessert. Failure a la mode! Does it get any better than that?
Doing this will strengthen your failing resilience muscle.
Fail on purpose. Laugh at your fail. Enjoy the process of failing. Learn something new.