Nobody sets out to fail at any task in which they undertake, success is the ultimate goal. The problem is that if you are afraid to fail, success is difficult to come by. Many great entrepreneurial minds as well as inventors understood and embraced that concept, and so should you if you are truly dedicated to doing whatever it takes to succeed. The key is recognizing what those past failures and mistakes were and learning from them in order to avoid repeating them.
Determination and drive are key character traits for any successful business person, in any field. Those who possess such traits view their failures as an opportunity to re-assess ideas, theories, processes, etc. and to make the necessary adjustments and push even harder to reach their goals. Thomas Edison once said when questioned about his numerous failed attempts at creating the storage battery, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. In essence, he was saying that he did not view his failures as failures per se, rather they were lessons in how not to reach his goal which forced him to different paths until he finally invented the storage battery that worked. This is a lesson that all people can apply to their own pursuits–learning from the wrong ways will eventually lead you to the right way.
Along the same lines, Henry Ford, who founded the Ford Motor Company was quoted as saying, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Taken literally, what this means is that with failure comes the chance to start from the beginning, but this time having the hindsight of knowing what did not work the last time and being able to avoid making the same mistakes again.
Donald Trump had several failed ventures during his real estate career yet he continued to develop more real estate projects. Warren Buffett had what he considered a failure when he sold his shares of Cities Services, the first stock he ever purchased, for $40 only to see the stock reach $200 a few years later but learned that investing in good companies for the long-term was a better plan. Sports teams such as the Boston Celtics, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Yankees, traditionally viewed as dynasties in their respective sports have had long periods of failure and disappointment before figuring out the formula to once again win championships.
Of course, these are just some of the well-known cases of people overcoming failure to become successful in their chosen tasks. There a more likely than not numerous local stories as well which may have more relevance to you and your individual situation. The ability to learn from prior failures combined with the drive and determination to not let setbacks derail them is what made these innovators, leaders, pioneers, groups/teams and countless others like them successful. Not being afraid to fail, while understanding that failure is an inevitable part of business, sports, and life will make the bumps in the road easier to navigate.
What have you learned from your failures? Have you been able to translate past shortcomings into current successes?