Tony Robbins once said, “Failure is the greatest teacher”. While that may be true, no one wants to be taught a lesson.
It takes great humility to acknowledge your shortcomings and admit you’ve failed. We’ve all been there. However, doing so is absolutely essential to attaining success and building character in any endeavor, especially in business.
Behind every successful company are high-character individuals, each with their fair share of failures and shortcomings. Not even the world’s greatest business people (the ones who appear in talk shows and magazines the world over) are immune to failure. In fact, people like Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Peter Loftin, Elon Musk, J.K. Rowling, and Richard Branson are all very familiar with failure. But not many people look at that.
People tend to focus on the glamour of success, not realizing the amount of heartbreak, anxiety, sacrifice, and will it takes to get there. The journey to success is paved with failure after failure after failure. And that builds character.
Here are some of the ways failure builds character in business:
If success is to winning, then failure is to practice. The only way to get stronger as a business leader is to cope with failure and learn from it.
Each failure teaches us to keep going. Like children learning to walk, we need to keep going, even after we fall flat on our faces. Even if moving forward is scary.
Use failure as an opportunity to build your resilience. Make a commitment to yourself to keep going even when the going gets tough. Soon enough you’ll realize that, although life gets harder, you only get stronger.
Thomas Edison is no stranger to botched experiments. When asked by a reporter on his many failures, he replied enthusiastically, “I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.
Failure can be an opportunity to gain experience; it teaches us more about ourselves and about the world around us. We learn what works and what doesn’t. In business, failure teaches us what our customers like and dislike, which projects work and which don’t, which products sell and which don’t, and many more.
Instead of dwelling on your failures, see how you can learn from them. The faster you can figure out why you failed, the quicker you can bounce back and improve. Take a cue from Peter Loftin and grow your business from the ground up. When you’re down, the only way to go is up!
Failure teaches us more about ourselves than success does. When we fail, we learn who we are: our strengths and weaknesses, our virtues and vulnerabilities, our capabilities and limitations.
Use failure as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your business. Understand each of your setbacks and gain perspective from them. More often than not, you’ll find a silver lining and an opportunity for growth.
Failure isn’t the endgame. When we fail, we grow and we learn. The sooner you figure that out, the more successful you’ll become in the future. Remember, every failure is an opportunity to improve!