People dream of success. But they don’t dream of failing.
In fact, most people don’t even like to think about failing. After all, failing doesn’t make us feel very good. It doesn’t assure us we’re on the right track or even if we know where the track is. If anything, it reminds us we’ve made a mistake, miscalculated, or misjudged something.
Fortunately, I don’t spend much time feeling badly when things don’t work right. Perhaps it’s because I think of failing as learning. The way I see it, I’ve learned what doesn’t work.
Like Thomas A. Edison, instead of focusing on what failed, I try to figure out exactly what went wrong and what I could do to correct it or do it better the next time. Edison was very clear about failing. In the course of inventing the light bulb he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Each failed attempt brought him closer to seeing the light and getting the answer he was looking for.
Now, there is a huge difference between failing and being a failure. Some people get confused.
Failing is what happens when we, as business owners or leadership teams try something new or different and it doesn’t work – be it a marketing approach, a new product line, or an improved process for getting product out the door. Failing is pitching a prospect we’ve been pursuing for months only to learn we lost the deal because the prospect went with our competitor.
Failures are people who give up completely. They take failing personally. They see it as a personal indictment of their inadequacy. So they walk away, crawl into a hole, remind themselves (erroneously, of course) they are unworthy, stupid, or ignorant. They’re the ones who talk themselves into never trying anything new or anything different ever again.
I don’t know anyone who gets it right the first time or all the time. In fact, I think the people who are the most successful in business and life are the ones who know the difference between failing and failure and who, no matter what, never give up. They’re the ones who realize failing isn’t the end of the world but a stepping-stone on the path to success.