Published: June 24, 2014
Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, tried 1,000 times before he developed a successful prototype. Shortly after he realized success, a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?”
“I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Unlike Edison, many of us avoid the prospect of failure. Yet, by actively working to avoid failure, you may limit yourself to the opportunities of success. You’ll likely fail if you don’t embrace failure, simply because you probably aren’t trying to change the rules and invent something better anyway.
Innovators, by nature, embrace failure – because they know from experience and instinct that the greatest successes don’t come to fruition in one try.
‘“Fail fast” is an overly used and loaded adage. Entrepreneurs don’t wake up and ask themselves “How can I fail today?” What’s important is not to embrace failure, but to figure out how to manage it.’ Here’s how:
- Try. You will never succeed nor fail, if you don’t take your ideas and give them a go. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “it is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
- Own Your Failure. Focus on value, not loss. Even a failed venture (whether a new business, new product, or new idea) has a very real worth. According to Forbes, “software, equipment, intellectual property, and even a network of contacts all have distinct value—and not just to you.” Take ownership of your part.
- Analyze The Experience. Look back on how you approached things. Is there anything that you would have or could have done differently? Hindsight is always 20/20.
- Learn From It. Albert Einstein had a sign on his office wall: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Take your failure and learn from it, embrace it, and next time fail a little less until the time comes for you to succeed.
Adjust Your Definition Of Failure
In a recent article on Forbes.com sharing How Failure Can Make You A More Successful Entrepreneur, “Ellie Cachette, vice president of product marketing at web design and development firm Koombea, emphasized that failure is a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey.”
When you look at failure and leave behind the negative connotations, there comes a real opportunity in falling just short of your goals. Failure can provide the necessary incentive to pick up and try again, just a little differently this time – if you choose to see it in that light. If you don’t positively embrace failure, it’s highly likely you haven’t done much to push the boundaries to begin with.