Failure is a part of life. It’s inescapable, but failure is only a loss if you don’t learn anything from it. Most entrepreneurs have fallen in their lives—some more severely than others. However, those who make it to the pinnacle only do so by dusting themselves off and taking stock of what their failures have taught them. Instead of seeing a failure as an insurmountable setback, these businesspeople see it as a learning experience and a guide to a different path.
How does one get over the idea of failure as a stumbling block? To learn more, we consulted 12 contributors to YEC, in order to find out how they managed to let go of past failures and embrace the future.
1. Use your failures to succeed.
If it was easy, you wouldn’t have failed. Your failure was likely the result of you doing something difficult, something new and challenging. Take a moment to be proud that you even attempted whatever led to the failure. Remind yourself of the honor that lives in that and be proud that you are doing something that is worth the potential to fail. Look back for motivation to get it right next time.
2. Track your progress and accomplishments.
When we fail, it is very easy to feel like we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. The best way to shed that negative feeling is to track—via notebook, web browser or phone app—the tasks that you have finished daily. These tasks can include if you have exercised that day, how many items you have completed on your to-do list or how you got approval on a project. We are more successful than we think we are.
3. Mourn, then move on.
I’ve failed as an entrepreneur many times. I have found that being open about my failures with family and friends helps lift the burden and breathe new life into me. Ultimately, I have to make a decision to let it go and stay focused on the present and future. It just takes some time to process failure… kind of like the stages of grief. Mourn the failure, then move on.
4. Don’t dwell on past failures.
Dwelling on past failures beyond the essential learning is a pure and simple waste of time. That is not the way to create success. Of course, we want to learn and change our behavior—after all, they say an apology without change is simply manipulation. So instead of dwelling on the past or pacifying the issue with a false sense of moving on, make a real pact with yourself and internalize the lesson.
5. Use mistakes to determine which way to go.
Failures have a wonderful benefit of showing you what direction not to go, and we never stop learning from them. I find limitations (like failure) help really open up a clearer pathway forward, and when there seems to be a million possibilities, that really does help in navigating. It’s like the game Battleship: Each miss helps you close in better on your target.
6. Be excited to start anew.
It is crucial to remember that past failures do not define you, yet how you react to them does. Failing at something simply means that you now get to begin again with a whole new understanding and perspective of what you are doing. Be excited to start anew.
7. Avoid pointing fingers at others.
If you blame others for your failures, you’ll never be able to move on and succeed. It’s important to take accountability for your actions like an adult so you can move forward knowing you’re doing the right thing. It’s more difficult to embrace new beginnings if you’re holding onto old grudges or blaming others for your own wrongdoings.
8. Accept where you’re at.
Are you in denial about where you are in your career versus where you want to be? Sometimes we lie to ourselves to help us cope with our shortcomings and failures, no matter how long ago they happened. It’s important to stay honest with yourself because that’s the only way you’ll be able to move forward to better things.
9. Remember that you’re a different person now.
The feeling of having failed in the past can be hard to overcome. It’s helpful to remember that you’re no longer the exact same person you were before. Today, you’ve learned a number of valuable lessons. You’ve met different people and had different experiences. You’re a different person thanks to the experiences you’ve had. Promise to learn from the past and you’ll do better this time around.
10. Shift your mindset to gratitude.
To move forward after a difficult failure, shift your mindset to one of gratitude. Consider that challenges and failures are the universe on your side, calling you to grow. Without failures and challenges, life would be deeply boring and unfulfilling.
11. Don’t look at mistakes as defining features.
We tend to look at our mistakes as our defining features. The truth is, most of our inner turmoil is self-inflicted and we are the only ones who notice! If you want to let go of your past failures, you have to acknowledge the fact that you have made mistakes, you learned valuable lessons and you’re ready for new beginnings.
Image by GoodStudio/Shutterstock.com
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.