There are so many aspects of being an entrepreneur that can only be learned through experience. I started my company shortly after graduating from USC, and even after all that schooling, there were some things that took me several years after that to learn. I’m still learning on a daily basis. One thing every successful business person has to learn is the difference between failing and being a failure.
Understanding the difference between these two things will not only help you succeed as an entrepreneur, but it will also help you in your corporate job as well. The difference between failing and being a failure is so profoundly opposite each other that the only thing they have in common is the root word ‘fail.’
Here in the States, there is a television show called Shark Tank. As each one of the entrepreneurs gives their quick pitch for why they need funding, it becomes very obvious who understands the difference between these two things and who doesn’t. If you have a chance to watch that show, I highly recommend it.
Failing is an important stepping-stone to success. According to John C. Maxwell, the author of Failing Forward, the difference between average and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.
In business, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you will fall down occasionally. It’s inevitable. I’ve done it myself at least a dozen times that I can think of right now. Failing is a sign that you’re trying. A person who has never failed at anything is also a person who has never stepped out of his or her comfort zone to try anything new.
If we could see how our business ideas would unfold before we pursued them, we could avoid all failures. Obviously, that is not possible. In lieu of that, the best we can do is to be resilient. Bounce-back-ability is one of the most important traits that any successful businessman or businesswoman can develop.
Being a failure is completely different than failing. I won’t ever call anyone a failure since there is always an opportunity to switch mindsets.
To me, being a failure represents giving up. At the point we decide we are a failure, we stop learning, we stop growing and it’s over. Once we acknowledge we are a failure, the passion, creativity, motivation and inspiration end.
The sooner we can all learn this difference, the sooner we can adjust how we react to failures. There is an aspect of every failure that will sting. But once we can take away the negative feelings we sometimes attach to ourselves when we fail, we can start to realize it’s a natural part of the success process.
Once that happens, we can move on to all the great things we were born to do! This chart below by Anna Vital at Funders and Founders illustrates what I’ve described in a very simple way.
The only thing I disagree about is that I don’t believe being a failure has to be permanent. There is always the chance to wake up the next morning, brush ourselves off and take on the world again! We were all meant for greatness, and I believe that 100%.