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What is your attitude to failure?

Today, I would like to talk about our hesitance to make mistakes.

This is most sharply felt in the arena of entrepreneurship. In South Africa, business struggles and closures are seen as failures and not (as in other countries) as part of the journey of entrepreneurial learning.

What do you think about these three quotes?

  • Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. …
  • Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure. …
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

In his book, Failing Forward, John Maxwell talks about losing some of the conditioning that we have all come out our early days of learning – the paralyzing fear of failure, attached to making mistakes

Maxwell wants us to see failure at the horizon and move ahead with confidence.

Here are 3 lessons to help you change your perspective:

#1: You might not be responsible for your failures, but you can sure take responsibility for your success. It’s not always your fault when things go wrong, but, when you give up and feel sorry for yourself, that is. When successful people fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic. It’s not personal. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, don’t let any single incidence colour your view of yourself or your business. Do you know what all successful entrepreneurs have in common? The ability to bounce back after an error, mistake or failure. Figure out what you didn’t do right, so you don’t do it again. That’s the key to bouncing back and failing forward.

#2: Turn failure into knowledge and knowledge into success.

Failing is not losing unless you do not learn from what went wrong. As an entrepreneur, making multiple attempts to launch your business can take the pressure off every single one.  We must come to the realization that entrepreneurs will go through multiple stages of failure, which will allow us to learn from each one and improve their next product or service we offer. This is how failure leads to success. When we put too much pressure on ourselves, we often don’t have the stomach to revisit our failure. But, how else should we find out what we did wrong? Make more. Quantity over quality. Be determined to understand your failures and then improve each time.

“Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.” John Maxwell

#3: Three things help you make the most of the opportunities that come your way.

When you begin to realize that your failure is actually a step forward, you will move forward and be open to opportunities that comes your way. Take captive every opportunity. Maxwell suggests working on three things to ensure you do: set clear goals; work on your social skills; and, keep a positive mind set.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” John Maxwell

Here’s to turning mistakes into stepping stones to success


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