How do you recover from failure?
- By Sherilynn Macale -
- May 02, 2012
How do you recover from failure, and what examples from history can we learn from? Here's a guest blog on getting back on your feet after a setback...
“@heycheri: How do you get back on the entrepreneurship horse after a project fails?” -- Jasmine via Twitter (@irljasmine)
Perhaps the most difficult part about failing when it comes to a project you’ve invested both time and energy into is the seemingly merciless blow to your self-esteem and confidence that accompanies the flop. Life, as we all know, never strives to be “fair”. So is it any surprise that a passionate entrepreneur throwing him/herself whole-heartedly into a venture would crumble the moment things don’t seem to be going the way he/she planned? Probably not.
Failure, however, is a very real and sometimes necessary part of achieving success. It might seem intimidating to approach a project with the knowledge that your plans may fall through, but the truth is: progress will almost always involve risk. And a big part of risking it all to be successful is failing along the way. As author Frederick B. Wilcox once said: “You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, always be mindful of the risk associated with taking the plunge into your venture, and be aware that failing to succeed at your present challenge does not mean you won’t have another chance to try again in the future.
Famous Failures Through History
Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, and The Beatles - three iconic figures known for their monumental success - are all folks who earned their places in history through hard work and dedication. But where would these champions of success be if not for the several failures experienced throughout their careers?
Einstein, for example, a brilliant man who couldn’t speak until he was four and was unable to read until age seven, was deemed mentally handicapped, slow, and anti-social by both his teachers and parents (poor Einstein!). This lack of a basic support system, however, wasn’t enough to deter Einstein from historic success. In fact, despite being expelled earlier on in his education as well as being refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School, Einstein rose to win the Nobel Prize, pioneering the foundation for what modern-day scientists base most of current physics on.
Then there’s Oprah who, though currently known as one of the most powerful, influential, and successful women in the world, suffered the same unsupportive childhood. Born to a teenage, single mother and growing up in a rough environment, Oprah’s journey to hosting a multi-award-winning talk show and becoming ranked the richest African American of the 20th century is one of those feel-good underdog stories that you can’t help but rally behind. Who knew that a woman who was fired from her job as a TV reporter due to being labelled “unfit for TV” would grow to be, for a time, the world’s only black billionaire because of her TV presence? Take that, failure.
And finally, The Beatles. Oh, to grow up dreaming of endless strawberry fields, or of taking a trip down Penny Lane where a barber was, as sung by the legendary band, showing photographs of every head he’s had the pleasure of knowing. Although the Beatles is undoubtedly one of the most successful bands in rock history, they too suffered from rejection and failure. When the group was first starting out, a recording company rejected the band, saying, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Millions of women throwing their bras and panties on stage and screaming with overwhelmed delight when Paul McCartney strummed his guitar, of course, disagreed.
If there’s one lesson you should take away from the stories of the three historic icons above, it’s this: Failure only exists when one chooses not to go on. One must absolutely maintain passion and dedication to his/her goals in order to achieve success, and often times, that success will only come after facing the crippling criticisms of naysayers, or after suffering through multiple defeats. But again, stay passionate. Stay focused.
Former Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once famously said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Look out for part two of this blog coming soon...
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