Success rarely follows a straight path.
In fact, many successful individuals fail over and over again before achieving something great. Abraham Lincoln failed repeatedly before becoming one of the greatest presidents this country has seen. Bill Gates’ first company failed. Thomas Edison’s teachers put him down before he changed the world with his inventions. If you have failed, that only means you have tried. The only true failure lies in giving up.
Finding the Silver Lining: Creating Opportunities from Failure
If your business or career is experiencing some setbacks or utter failure, use the opportunity to rethink your strategy and begin again. Here are some tips to keep a failure from stopping you in your tracks:
- Take a moment to breathe – Some individuals successfully compartmentalize their failures. Others, however, experience strong feelings during times of success and failure. Always take time to reorient your brain after a failure. Failure does not reflect poorly on you, your character, or your worth. Watch some Ted Talks or read an inspirational book – When you start again, you need complete commitment.
- Get some outside advice – The most valuable assets you have in your career or business are people. You can’t correct your course unless you know what went wrong and have some ideas for starting over. Talk to industry veterans, professional entrepreneurs, and anyone you meet. You never know when a small interaction will create that “aha!” moment.
- Don’t ignore reputation management – Big and small failures can lead to rumors and reputation damage. If you have an online presence, take the time to proactively address your situation and do some damage control. Set the record straight, but do not engage with cheap attention-getting tactics.
- Prepare for future failures – Succeeding in life means taking calculated risks. You will always face the risk of failure in the future. In the meantime, focus on how you can minimize those risks and prepare to absorb future failures with some careful planning and budgeting.
- Learn something new – Failure presents a great opportunity to make yourself stronger. Attend a seminar, volunteer somewhere, or enroll in a class. Not only will you develop a new skill, you may also find your next calling, a mentor, or a business partner.
- Recognize when it’s time to abandon a sinking ship – You will invariably make tough decisions along the way, and sometimes you may not have a clear idea of the “right” choice. In a traditional career or as an entrepreneur/business owner, give yourself about 2-3 years to find success. If you can’t make it work financially or emotionally in that timeframe, consider moving on to another adventure.
- Care for yourself first – Burnout is a real thing, and it can compound the effects of failure. Successful people invest in more than their work; they invest in themselves. Eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise. Take time to laugh and see a therapist if needed.
Half of succeeding after a setback is about mental fortitude, and the other half is hard work. If you can accept that failure is part of life, avoid taking yourself too seriously, and get back up and try again, you will find your silver lining.