Tips to help you get beyond failure
Via LinkedIn : In December I had the pleasure of attending Kim Garst’s Social Boom! Conference in Tampa, but one of the speakers just didn’t seem to fit.
Emeric Ernoult talked about failure.
I remember sitting there, thinking, “Really? What a downer! I want to learn about success, not about failure.”
But the longer I listened to the founder of AgoraPulse, a wildly successful Facebook and Twitter marketing suite, the more I paid attention to his story.
A French-American serial entrepreneur with five start-ups to his credit, Emeric was plainspoken about his failures. He built apps that failed. He created a company that sold DIY web communities to brands. That bombed, too. Of the five businesses he launched, he told us, four had failed (or semi-failed).
His advice to the group: “When you’ve tried hard enough, long enough, no additional work will help. Then you need to stop.” For him, the magic number was three years.
I think every entrepreneur on the planet has wondered – when is it time to stop? How long do I keep doing this thing before I move on? How do you define “hard enough, long enough”?
As I tell people in my Time Tips time management group, it’s not the amount of work that you do, but the value of what you’re working on. Most of us get that wrong – including me. So if you’re bragging about the number of hours you work, you’re not thinking like an entrepreneur but a wage-earner.
Are you investing your time in the right things? Are you investing your energy and your money on products or services that people actually want?
As the days and weeks went on, the more my mind went back to the start of his presentation: When is it time to stop? To call it quits?
It occurred to me that while Emeric may have failed at five businesses, his failures were actually a terrific success story.
Because he didn’t give up. He just moved on to the next thing.
Here are some tips to help you get beyond failure.
- Be sure you have explored every option. Emeric’s “long enough, hard enough,” I think, is a function of how many permutations you have tried. Keep going until you run out of options.
- Figure out what failed and why. This means paying close attention to what it is you’re doing. What do your statistics tell you? As Emeric said, “Most of the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I learned afterward.”
- Change. Once you figure out where you’ve gone off track, fix it. Is it the product or service that isn’t working? Is it marketing (or lack thereof)? Do more of what works, and stop doing what doesn’t. If nothing is working, chuck it all out and start fresh.
- Manage your failure. No one succeeds at everything, all the time. Understand that there will be times when you will not get it right. Change your definition of success: You can see failure as the End of the World as You Know It, or you can see it as an opportunity to do something new, something different. How would you rather feel?
- Know that you are good enough. No one wants to feel inferior or inadequate, and there is no reason to. Some of the most successful people have failed scores or hundreds of times before achieving their goals. (Did you know Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper job because he didn’t have enough imagination?)
- Stay calm. OK. You blew it. You screwed up. You can beat yourself up over it (or take it out on others, which is just as bad), but that’s a waste of perfectly good energy. Don’t stuff your feelings; acknowledge what you’re going through. Just don’t get stuck there and mope around for the rest of your life. Not only is that a waste of energy, it’s a waste of your gift to the world.
- Forget about what others may say. No one knows all the details of what’s gone on in your life. They may judge. So what?
- What’s the lesson? What have you learned? Most of what we get from failure is what not to do next time. Life is trial and error, no guarantees provided. We are always refining who we are and what we want out of life. That’s a good thing!
- Be present. You can worry about what may happen in the future – another waste of perfectly good energy – or you can sit down and figure out the path forward. Which feels better to you?
Reject fear. Fear and retraction, a pulling in, are reasonable responses to failure. Who wants to go through THAT again, right? Just remember that fear of anything means giving up your power. If your fear is debilitating enough, eventually you will turn over your life to other people who will make all your decisions for you – all because you’re afraid to fail. Is that what you want?
- Inoculate yourself against failure. Give yourself a safe place to fail: Try a series of small things (in private if necessary) that will have little or no impact on your life if you tank. Maybe it’s learning how to make free throws or painting with watercolors or writing haiku. So you can’t shoot a basket to save your life – you’ve “failed.” And the point would be…what? The more you fail, the easier to becomes to get over it. Trust me on this.
- Focus on the joy. How did you feel when you succeeded? Recall an incident in your life when you knocked it out of the ballpark. Immerse yourself in that feeling and know that you can feel it again.
Failure is temporary. Giving up is permanent.
How do you handle failure? I’m always up for new tactics!
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