LEARNING FROM FAILURE

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As the New Year dawns, we look to reframe bad habits and create new ones that support us. This year, work to push through resistance and liberate yourself from fear. Do one thing every day that scares you.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Cohelo, The Alchemist

Most startups fail. Much like the game of baseball, failure is part of the process. How you deal with failure will determine your success. True to form, entrepreneurs say they’ve grown from each problem. When you do grow from experience, the failure becomes a lesson.

A key first look is to understand what caused the failure. Identify the error and find the solution for it. Then, every mistake becomes an opportunity. In every startup failure, there are many details in the process. Looking at each step, every decision, and finding which play worked and which didn’t will reveal the cause(s) of the failure. It might be one choice, or a series of choices that didn’t work together. Assess and learn from the mistake. Study it—grow from it.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas Edison

Take full and complete responsibility for your own actions, decisions, and intentions. Own it. Say it out loud—I was wrong. I struggled. I made a mistake. Understand your justification and rational for the decisions you made, and realize where your thinking was wrong (even though they seemed right at the time). This will help you turn the failure into a lesson for growth.

Adjust accordingly. Make the minimum necessary change to help frame potential solutions to problems. Clearly define the problem, brainstorm potential solutions, weigh the pros/cons of each. Find the most elegant solution to the problem rather than getting caught up in an unnecessary overarching redesign. Fail fast. Fix it faster.

“There is an art to finding the minimal intervention that will result in a desired Reality Change. There is a special change called “The Minimum Necessary Change.” —Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity.

Be ready to alter your plan. While it is important to have a plan, it is critical to be willing to adapt, and quickly! Feedback will help keep you on track or it will demand a turn to get you headed in the right direction. Be flexible in order to meet the needs of those who embrace your offer.

Failure is just feedback. It is an alert that something needs to be fixed. So fix it. Fast! Change course. Get on the track to success. And be thankful for the lessons of failure.