Redefining Failure

I used to hate the verb ‘to fail’. It always used to reincarnate memories that I’d hoped to cast aside. Memories such as failing to achieve the grades that I expected or memories of my failure with any person of the opposite sex through secondary school. One of the definitions of ‘to fail’ according to the dictionary is to disappoint or alternatively to be deficient and unable to produce. This definition of failure is dirty. It inhibits people from pursuing what they believe in and what they want.

I’ve recently been helping someone set up a business. They’re incredibly talented at what they do but they haven’t taken that step. Every time I talk to them they say they want to, no, they need to, learn more before they set up. The thing is, they’re already better than many of the people I’ve seen working in the same market and what they do is unique to the market, but they suffer from the dirty definition of failure. They’re so hung up on failing that they’ve not even considered the potential of winning. Never fear failing, fear never giving yourself the chance to win. Surely that’s the most disappointing of scenarios?

Never fear failing, fear never giving yourself the chance to win

If you’re like me and you submerse yourself within the entrepreneurial world (and why wouldn’t you?!), failure is something that you hear about time and time again. In fact there are some venture capitalists who won’t invest in a concept if the founder hasn’t failed before. Failure isn’t seen as a bad thing, but more like a necessary point of progress on your entrepreneurial journey. That’s not to say you should try to fail. That would be illogical. You should always try to do the best you possibly can, but also accepting of the fact that there are something’s that you just do not know and may sideswipe you. As the saying goes, you learn more from your loses than you do from your wins. Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball players of all time summed it up perfectly:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

The thing is, one of the greatest tools that you get from being entrepreneurial is that you realise that failure isn’t fatal, it’s fundamental. All part of life’s great journey. And after all, to quote one of my many much used phrases, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.

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