Nowadays, we often debate on success, but the topic of failure remains neglected or avoided. But why? What exactly is failure? Many of us grew up with the idea that failure is ‘bad’ and we shouldn‘t fail our exams, we shouldn’t fail in sports, and later on in our career or life in general. We were taught that by avoiding failure, we won’t face any consequences. dictionary.com defines the term as “an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success”, and therefore we can conclude that failure is perceived by the majority as the opposite of success. Many people struggle with fear of failure, thus failure has such a strong negative connotation. But the truth is that it is inevitable, especially if we thrive to develop and learn. As Tryon Edwards once said:
“The error of the past is the wisdom of the future.”
What is more dangerous – failure or the fear of failure?
A study conducted by Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management concluded that the formula to success is most certainly puzzling. Professor Dashun Wang, the head of the research, established that the effort those who succeed and ‘failures’ put into their work does not differ, neither how many times they have tried. The only difference is that those who succeeded have learned from their mistakes and based their strategy on improving what doesn’t work and keep what works.
The truth is that success and failure go hand in hand, rather than contradict each other. Society has taught us that failure should be avoided at any cost and that if we play safe, we certainly won’t fail. First of all, that is not entirely true and second, there is nothing wrong with failing. If we don’t take risks we will never grow and therefore never realize our dreams. Very often failing is not as scary as it seems, and we can only learn from this experience. The real obstacle is the fear of failure.
The fear of failure, or also known as atychiphobia, is an irrational obstacle that we create. It is often related to perfectionism and sometimes has even physical symptoms. But the good news is that we can change that by simply accepting failure as part of the process and as necessary that will help us grow. After all, when (not if) we fail, it means that we tried, took a risk and learned something new.
Think outside the box
By learning how to take risks, we are facing our fears and becoming more resilient and confident – both qualities typical for entrepreneurs. As a Marketer, you should think outside the box and adopt the entrepreneur mindset. Entrepreneurs are optimists, born leaders and risk-oriented. Risks hide progress, growth and success. On the other hand, they also hide failure, but as mentioned above failure is a valuable lesson and entrepreneurs are not afraid of it. Whatever the outcome is, a true leader can never lose, only learn and improve.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. — Eric Worre
If you want to learn more about Eric Worre’s view on entrepreneurial mindset, check our article Define your own success. Or if you are interested in the topic of leadership, simply click here to find out more.
Dictionary.com, LLC, accessed 20 August 2021, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/failure
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Washington, DC; 2013.
Yin, Y., Wang, Y., Evans, J.A. et al. Quantifying the dynamics of failure across science, startups and security. Nature 575, 190–194 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1725-y