Becoming comfortable with failures

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Nobody enjoys failures – anyone who says to ‘celebrate’ them will still have experienced disappointments of their own. However, there are significant reasons to at least get comfortable with the idea of failure.

The upside of failures

1. Learning from mistakes (the cliché)

This is probably the most commonly stated reason for being happy with failures – the learning you get from them. Although it can be a painful experience at the time, and you will likely wish that you did not make the mistake, it is certainly true that a lot of learning comes from mistakes that are made. 

2. Being willing to take risks

Taking risks is an inherent part of becoming an entrepreneur. While it is important to be smart with risk-taking – seeking to test assumptions and minimize unnecessary risks where possible – there will inherently be times where you need to make decisions under uncertainty. Becoming comfortable with failures helps avoid making ‘non-decisions’ – the tendency to push off hard decisions.

3. Moving on quickly

Just as important as being willing to take risks, is being able to quickly recognize your mistakes and move on from ‘mini-failures’, rather than continuing past the point where success is unlikely. Becoming comfortable with failures makes it easier to identify the unfruitful directions, and help adjust from them, rather than continuing down the path in the hope that conditions will improve. Being willing to recognize missteps quickly is an important skill in avoiding large failures.

4. Remaining positive

The final benefit of becoming comfortable with failures is remaining positive despite the inevitable setbacks that you will encounter. If every setback is taken personally, as a knock to your confidence, becoming an entrepreneur can quickly become a demoralizing endeavor. Becoming comfortable with failures can help you avoid getting caught up with every mistake or lesson that you learn the hard way.

Becoming comfortable with failure

Recognizing that failure is not all bad, and becoming comfortable with failure are two different things. That said, the more that you can recognize that failure is not all bad – in fact, being willing to fail small can be a good thing for startups – the easier time you can have accepting inevitable failures.

Another approach to help you become comfortable with failures is recognizing that if you have to make tens or hundreds of decisions every day, inevitably some of them will not work out. Rather than being a weakness, failures are an inevitable component of having to make decisions – and the more decisions that make, the natural byproduct is that you’ll have more things that won’t work quite as expected.

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