13 February 2014

I was asked recently whether making a string of failures means that you’re somehow not cut out to be an entrepreneur or that you should just give up all together. While I understand the frustration when plans don’t turn out as you expected, I also think it’s important to realise that the people you aspire to emulate have probably had a similar experience.

It stands to reason that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome is foolish – I think it was Einstein who made that comment – but if there’s an element of trial and error involved in all of our journeys, whatever it is that we’re trying to achieve. Personally, I can think of many times when I have made the wrong decision or fallen short of my own expectations, but they’ve taught me pitfalls to avoid and encouraged me to seek out different ways of thinking and working. Thomas Edison, creator of the light bulb, failed thousands of times before he accomplished his goal, which is perhaps why he is quoted as saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Ultimately, it’s about perspective. What does the word ‘failure’ mean to you? Is it not succeeding the first time round or is it giving up on something for fear of failing a second time? I think it’s fair to say that failure isn’t complete until you throw up your hands and admit defeat. So if you’re reading this and are close to giving up on a personal ambition or exciting new idea, I’d urge you to take a moment to sit down and write down the things that are stopping you or going wrong. Ask yourself what you’ve learnt from previous attempts. How can you get around the obstacles and back on track?

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