Failure gets a bad rap. We don’t like it when it happens to us. And when it does, we find it hard to admit that we had anything to do with it. Often, we make excuses for it—to ourselves and to others. Of course, this makes perfect sense. Who wants to admit that we failed? After all, we think, failure is the opposite of success.
Well, it’s not. To me, the opposite of success is not trying at all. It’s choosing to not try rather than risk failure. So what’s failure? Failure is an opportunity to learn and focus on what can bring you the next win. That’s why I relish failure. Because every time I fail at something, I learn a bit, and I get better at succeeding. The more I try, the more I fail. The more try, the more I succeed. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
I worked on a marketing campaign for a client a while back. I recommended that my client try something new that they’d never done before. I had high hopes for it and I really believed that it was the right thing for them to do. Well, it failed. When the campaign was done, my client said something like, “That was a total waste, I guess.” I told them it was a valuable learning experience, because now we know not to do that kind of campaign for their organization. We went small and tested the concept, and it didn’t work. Thankfully, we didn’t go big. Now that we know that particular kind of campaign doesn’t work for the client’s business, we can try something else. Because of that one small failure, my client has a better chance of being successful moving forward.
Since there’s always something new to try, we won’t run out of ways to succeed. In a world where there are so many options, failure gives us a way to focus. It helps us spend less time intellectualising possible paths (“There are a million things to do to grow revenue… we could do this and this and this…!”) and more time actually executing (“We tried X and it didn’t work, we tried Y and it did, so let’s go in Y direction.”).
It’s as a consultant that I really learned to relish trying—and failing. To me, every email and phone call to a prospect has a very strong chance of failure… but I don’t need a million wins to grow my company. I just need a nice bunch of wins. So if I’m failing a ton but succeeding a lot, I’m very happy. After all, if I’m not failing, I’m not trying and I can’t get more customers and get more business without trying.
Learn to relish failure. Once you find yourself relishing it—instead of fearing it—you’ll try more. You’ll be less afraid of the unknown and you’ll find yourself having more successes to enjoy. And you might also find that it just may differentiate you from the crowd. After all, in a world of people making up dumb excuses when things don’t work out, a little bit of honesty and humility can make a stupendous impression on people.