“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison
Do you think that Thomas A. Edison didn’t get it wrong sometimes when inventing? I can’t imagine that the American businessman and inventor of the motion picture camera, as well as the small glass bulb that brings light to our homes and workspaces, didn’t make mistakes and occasionally get it wrong. However, the fact that millions of homes around the world are lit in the hours of darkness by that small glass bulb, guarantees that even if things didn’t always go his way, he never gave up, but persevered and in the end achieved.
The world is full of famous people who have either seemingly reached the pinnacle of their career only to lose it all again (think Steve Jobs CEO of Apple), or the likes of Steven Spielberg who, despite being one of the world’s most famous film directors, almost never got started and was rejected 3 times by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, because his grade C average was classed as too low. He went on to study elsewhere and the rest is cinematic history, think a great white shark and an alien with a telephone trying to call home.
Failure at some point in our lives seems par for the course. Not least, when you’ve decided to borrow money to get what you’re convinced is the best business idea of the century, off the ground. You’ve done the research, you understand the market and you know who your client base is. You get the funding approved, the website launched, business cards printed and the world is your oyster.
Then the unthinkable happens. The research wasn’t quite as clear cut as you thought. The market dumps, you’re left with 500 useless business cards and a large amount of debt sitting very heavily on your shoulders.
We’ve all experienced failure at some point in our lives, but it’s the getting back on the bike and trying again that differentiates those that go on to achieve and those that don’t. So here are my top tips on how to get back on said bike when things go wrong:
- Accept that things went wrong and allow yourself to feel a little pity. Give yourself a chance to grieve for what was lost, it’s part of the healing process
- Be honest about what went wrong, accept any mistakes as mistakes do happen even to the best of people, and then forgive yourself. Once the situation feels more settled, look at where you are now and consider if the outcome could have been worse. If the answer is yes then count your blessings!
- Don’t let a feeling of failure close your mind off to opportunities that may present themselves. Things may not have gone to plan but that doesn’t meant that you don’t have the business acumen or overall intelligence you need and never will. It just makes you reassess how going forward you might deal with certain scenarios differently
- Don’t isolate yourself when things go wrong, remember you’re not the first person to ‘fall off a horse’ and you won’t be the last. Remind yourself of previous triumphs and successes. You’ve achieved before and you will achieve again
- And finally in the words of Theodore Roosevelt – “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”