During an interview in the past, in a beautiful Paris evening, I was going on and on about the peaks of my success during my career. The interviewer then threw me off with a surprising question “So, tell me about your failures?” For a moment, my impulsive brain wanted to answer that I have never had a failure but then the truth came out in the form of the evident “ any success story was preceded by a series of failures”. The astonishment on his face was greater than the fresh evening air as he expected another answer, maybe!
This was the day I learned an important lesson about being open to our failures rather than brushing them under the carpet. It later dawned upon me that failure is the ladder to success and all great men in history went through a fate before reaching success.
Therefore, let us talk about 6 reasons why failure at first is a far and important milestone before success at step one or at every step!
Failure Opens New Doors
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”. This means that failure does help you move forward but only if you are willing to learn from what went wrong and correct it on the go! I remember hating one of my classes back in engineering college. However, by persistence, trial & error, and learning from every failed test, I somehow got my basics right and passed that course.
If we recall some of the big names in the past, Thomas Edison and Dyson made 1000’s of attempts before they came up with a successful prototype of the light bulb and bagless vacuum cleaner respectively. However, failure opens new doors only if you learn from your mistakes and are willing to make a course correction.
Failure Makes You Stronger
Every time you fall off the bike, you get a scratch but with time the same scratches make you stronger as well as motivate you to learn so you don’t have to fall again. Failure is just like that first bike of yours but teaches a little more than just how to get from one place to another quickly. Similarly, a person lifting weights tears his muscles but the same muscles grow back to be stronger and more aesthetically pleasing. In the world of entrepreneurs, you read about Robert Branson who dropped out of school when he was 15 and fought dyslexia towards his riches. His ingredient for success was that each failure made him stronger and resilient every time.
Failure Teaches You Resilience
A soccer coach winning all the matches keeps on playing with the same team and boxer landing punches on his opponent keep going with his plan ‘A’. Only when they start getting hit or beaten, they change their strategy. Failure teaches us to think on our feet and change our strategy so we are not stuck with one option even if we find out that it is not the right one.
In business, this can be listed as iteration which involves testing prototypes or strategies before going big. It may end up in failure but provides valuable data of what the customer doesn’t want!
Resilience should also be your core value even if you are not facing failure as the more you succeed, the chances of failure increase as per the laws of probability. Moreover, if you are not failing at all, it means you have not yet aimed higher than what you have the potential to.
Failure Trains You To Overcome Your Fears
Early on in my career, I was once asked by my boss to open a presentation without previous preparation. I knew everything since I had made the presentation for him but I froze with fear of facing 12 unknown company board members. Later my boss told me that I went too fast. This was not because of a lack of knowledge or skill but because I could overcome my fear to speak on a known topic in front of powerful unknown people. I knew one aspect of my personality that I had to work on!
Failure, in a similar fashion, teaches us to face our fears with failing to be the number one fear for any intrapreneur or entrepreneur. It makes our ego flexible against distortion and therefore we embrace non-favorable results rather than go weeping about it or hiding it altogether. When you have a no-fear attitude and embrace our shortcomings it will maximize your motivation, determination, and perseverance.
The classic example of overcoming your fears to march towards success is Mr. Walt Disney who says after a number of failures
“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid”
Failure Provides An Opportunity To Grow
In the next meeting, I requested to be allowed to give the presentation opening for which I was now prepared. This shows that failure also provides an opportunity to work on your weakness and come back strongly, mentally prepared, and ready to give it a go again. As an overall effect, you grow your skill level and personality traits.
Humans have a natural tendency to sulk after failure, although it should be taken as an opportunity to grow which it is presenting right on your doorstep. People like Oprah Winfrey and J.K Rowling did not give up based on their failures. They worked on the loopholes and came back even more strongly & the rest is history!
Failure Helps In Discovering Alternate Routes
All the famous people mentioned above-faced failure. However, they did not keep on banging the same door as they learned from it, corrected their path, and went onto greater glory. This is what actually failure teaches us. It teaches us to watch for alternate routes when the original plan is not working. It tells us to keep working on different paths when the current one is working fine because one day it can all come crashing down and you will have nowhere to go but at the feet of failure. Therefore, in the bigger picture, failure teaches us to find a different set of solutions!
Though, I would like to ponder upon a very important difference between the two major kinds of failures. The earlier you realize and correct your course, the better. One kind of failure that is mostly discussed in this post is the productive failure from which you learn and move towards your end goal. The second kind of failure is the one which you can avoid through planning, hard work, and research.
Therefore, never be afraid of failure rather embrace it and move forward. Yet, be aware of procrastination and jumping the gun when it comes to research and planning before executing.
If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived!
Have you ever faced a failure that has pushed you towards greater glory? Share your story with us in the comment section which may motivate someone unintentionally!