Learn from Failures
Failures are milestones of success provided we don’t quit.
Opening Case Study:
Failures to Success: Walt Disney
Walt Disney, an American
film producer, director, voice over actor, animator, as well as international
icon, created over 81 feature films and gave the world some of the most popular
cartoon characters. During his lifetime, he received more than 950 honors that
included 22 Academy Awards and four honorary Academy Awards. Disney built
the California Institute of the Arts and Disneyland. However,
his success story was full of painful events and failures. At the age of 22, he
went bankrupt after the brutal failure of a cartoon series in Kansas City. He
went bankrupt several times before he finally built Disneyland. He also wanted
to become a Hollywood actor but it never happened. He was once fired by a
newspaper editor who accused him to be lazy and lacking imagination and
creative ideas. But setting criticism and failures aside, he never gave up
trying or stepping forward. Once Walt Disney said:“I have been up against tough
competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” He
proved that success is not what opportunities bring to us but the perseverance
and courage in failure that keeps us motivated to succeed. What matters the
most is: Do you take lessons from failures? Do you fear struggle or take it as
the best opportunity to move forward?
Do you dream everyday and try to make them come true? If you answer in affirmative, then be assured that your success story has begun. If you keep moving on against the odds and beyond all the disappointments and failures, success will welcome you with open arms.
Entrepreneurship is all about facing fears and marching ahead. Have you ever been so afraid of failing at starting your own venture that you decided not to try it at all? Or has a fear of failure meant that, subconsciously, you under-rated your own efforts to avoid the possibility of a larger failure? Majority of us have almost certainly experienced this at one time or another. The fear of failing can be paralyzing – it can cause us to do nothing, and therefore defy us from moving forward. However, when we allow fear to prevent our forward progress in life, we’re likely to miss some great opportunities along the way.
Reasons to appreciate Failure
Some of the most popular products we use today were failures stumbled on by clumsy scientists, chefs who spilled things, and misguided inventors who were trying to create the opposite of what they ended up with. But we can all take comfort in knowing even some huge mistakes can come with silver linings, sometimes big enough to change entire industries. Here are a few examples:
Lighting up the sky, bringing people together in celebration ‘ Fireworks’ are a magical creation that are enjoyed all over the world. This is all thanks to an unknown cook in China!
A cook in China, whose name is unknown, loved experimenting with food. One day of experimenting in his kitchen lead to the discovery of fireworks.
Mixing together common kitchen items charcoal, sulfur and saltpeter, the cook then compressed these ingredients into a bamboo tube and when heated up, it exploded, causing the birth or fireworks!
- Corn Flakes
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a good healthy breakfast fuels our body’s for the day ahead! Corn Flakes is a widely known cereal that a lot of us have come to love. You would never think leaving a pot of boiled grain on the stove for a few days by accident is how Corn Flakes came about. But it is!
The Kellogg Brothers, John and Will were trying to make a pot of boiled grain and they accidentally left the pot on the stove for a few days. The mixture turned moldy though what remained was dry and thick. Through further experimentation, they eliminated the mold part and created Corn Flakes.
- Post-it notes
Spencer Silver, a researcher in 3M Laboratories invented the post-it notes. What he was trying to make was a strong adhesive. The story of how it was created goes like this: While working away, Silver created an adhesive that was actually weaker than what already existed. It stuck to objects but could be pulled off easily without leaving a mark. Years later a colleague spread the substance on little pieces of paper to mark his place in his choir hymn book, and the idea was born.
“Failure” – A Matter of Perception
It’s next to impossible to tread through life without coming across some kind of failure or the other. People who to do so perhaps live so vigilantly that they go nowhere. Put basically, they’re not really living at all.
The brilliant thing about failure is that it’s entirely up to us to decide how to look at it.
We can opt to consider failure as “the end of the world,” or as testimony of just how inadequate we are. Or, we can make a conscious choice of looking at failure as the unbelievable learning experience that it often is. Whenever we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we’re intended to gain knowledge of. These lessons are very significant; they’re how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. Failures de-motivate us only if we let them.
All legends who have been successful, have experienced failure. For example:
- Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill.
- Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
- Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, is a high school dropout.
Most of us will trip up and fall in life. Doors will get banged in our faces, and we might make some terrible decisions. But visualize if Michael Jordan had given up on his dream to play basketball when he was cut from that team. Imagine if Richard Branson had listened to the people who told him he’d never do anything worthwhile without a high school diploma.
Imagine the opportunities you’ll miss if you let your failures stop you.
Failure can also make us aware of things about ourselves that we would never have learned otherwise. For example, failure can help you find out how strong a person you are. Failing at trying out a new venture can help you discover your true abilities, or help you find unexpected motivation to succeed.
Time and again, valuable insights come only after a failure. Accepting and learning from those insights is key to succeeding in life.
Defeating your Fear of Failure
It’s essential to understand that no matter what you do, there’s always a chance that you’ll fail. Taking that chance, and accepting the outcome, is not only courageous – it also gives you a richer, more rewarding life.
However, here are a few methods to diminish the fear of failing:
- Examine all possible outcomes – Many people acknowledge fear of failure because they fear the unfamiliar. Get rid of that fear by considering all of the possible outcomes of your decision.
- Discover how to think more optimistically – Positive thinking is an unbelievably powerful way to boost self-confidence and counterbalance self-sabotage. Through the practice of self-awareness, rational thinking, and positive thoughts you can get a comprehensive resource for dealing with failures.
- Consider the worse-case scenario – In some instances, the worst case scenario may be truly disastrous, and it may be perfectly rational to fear failure. However by being prepared for the worst, anything that will happen will be better than the worst. Moreover, the worst case may actually not be that bad, and recognizing this can help.
- Have emergency plans – If you’re afraid of failing at something, having a “Plan B” in place can help you feel more confident about moving forward. Emergency plans prepare you to take an action in case what you expected does not match with actual results.
Using Goal Setting to deal with Failures
If you have a fear of failure, you might be uncomfortable setting goals. But goals help entrepreneurs define where they want to go in life. Without goals, they have no sure objectives.
Many experts advocate forming a mental picture as a powerful tool for goal setting. Envisaging how life will be after you’ve reached your goal is a great motivator to keep you moving forward.
Begin by setting a few small goals. These should be goals that are somewhat, but not overpoweringly, challenging. Think of these goals as “early wins” that are designed to help boost your confidence.
For example, if you’ve been too afraid to talk to the new department head (who has the power to give you the promotion you want), then make that your first goal. Plan to stop by her office during the next week to introduce yourself.
Try to make your goals tiny steps on the route to much bigger goals. Don’t focus on the end picture: getting the promotion. Just focus on the next step: introducing yourself to the department head. That’s it.
Taking one small step at a time will help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal.After all failures are stepping stones on the road to achieveme