Learning from Failing

Learning from Failing

No one likes to fail, but we all do at some point. Perhaps it is that big deal that doesn’t happen. Perhaps it is a failed relationship. Perhaps you failed your driver’s licence test the first time around, or you started a business that did not make it. Inevitably, all of us fail at some point. But success comes from moving beyond the failure and taking some learning from it.

For me, it is about looking at what I can learn from my failure. Yes, I failed my driver’s licence test the first time around. But I understood what I did wrong, took another test a week later, and passed with flying colours. And yes, I have lost some big accounts. The deal was lost. I failed to win or renew it. Recently, a few of us were at a conference chatting about failures and what we learned from them. Here are some of the top outcomes from that discussion.

  • Failure creates innovation. When something does not fly because of internal or external pushback, look for an alternate way to achieve the goal. Perhaps it is an internal department that doesn’t like an aspect of your prospect proposal. If so, work with that department to come up with a solution. That’s innovation rising from failure or rejection.
  • As one person noted, failure builds character. It makes our skin thicker. In the sponsorship game, rejection, failure, and “no” are a way of life. Let’s find a way to learn that it is not personal. It is not about you, but your failure to deliver the right solution or the way you proposed the solution. Once we understand that the “no” or rejection is not about us, we can take failure in stride and find the correct solution needed to be successful.
  • Failure is a steppingstone. Colonel Harland Sanders was over 65 when he started KFC. He was rejected over 100 times before he succeeded. Abraham Lincoln failed to be elected to the Senate or Congress six times before he became President. Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Art! Before creating a TV show about nothing, Jerry Seinfeld was a stand-up comedian on the circuit. His first time on stage, he froze and was jeered and booed off the stage. He could have packed it in there and then, but instead he persevered and went on to become one of the most famous comedians ever! Some of the world’s most successful people have had multiple failures before their great successes.
  • I love this quote from one of the most talented basketball players of all time—Michael Jordon. He said, “I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games, 26 ties. I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Failure is a state of mind. Understand what caused the failure, correct it, and move on. It is a starting point for success. Overcome it. You can and will succeed.

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