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The 5 Essential Lessons of Failing

Five Essential Lessons of Failing

“I like to consider failures ‘noble experiments.'”
—Chip Conley (MBA ’84), Founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels

The act and experience of failing are a constant topic in the entrepreneurial and business world. If you’ve got the moves to launch something, and the wherewithal to grow it, you’ll also need the gut to stomach a fall.

All too often, we have a brilliant idea, a solid gallery of supporters and a little financial cushion to get us through the first stages of startup. Surely, we think, this is going to work.

Then, ker-plunk. You hit your first bump. Then another. And other. Pretty soon, you’re questioning your idea, smarts and skills altogether. Next up, a face plant.

We all do it. Sometimes it’s the new perspective gained from staring so closely at the ground – so to speak – that gives us the grit to go at it again. Sometimes, we see that it’s time to stop.

No matter the case, there are lessons to be learned. Here are five whether you’ve just done a face plant or are just starting out:

1 circlue

IT’S NOT PERSONAL

Your business is not YOU. Just as Picasso is not his paintings or Meryl Streep her movies, you are neither your work nor business. It’s a separate entity that you created but it is not you.

2 circle

EFFORT DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL RESULTS

Change is hard work. Especially when that change means fabricating something out of thin air, like a new business. But no matter the sweat equity you invest, no matter the brilliance you shine, success is not guaranteed.

3 circle

EVERYTHING IS NOT UNDER CONTROL

We are in love with control. I mean, who isn’t? We all have control issues. And business is a great place to (re)learn that everything can’t be controlled. Some things are better left explained as synchronistic or coincidental where no amount of effort could predict the outcome. Trust that. And know, too, that sometimes things fall apart despite the effort.

4 cirlce

SPEAK UP, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE

You know that niggly voice at the back of your head going, “I wonder if I should say this…?”. The answer is probably yes. Before you sign the contract. Before you take the job. Before you make the call. Ask the question. Get answers. Know where you stand. So many failures could have been avoided just by asking that question.

5 circle

HEART IS IMPORTANT, BUT MONEY MATTERS

It’s important and great to go after a passion and to pursue your sense of purpose. I’m all for it. But for pete’s sake, you also have to eat, pay your cell phone bill and stay connected to the interwebs. Money matters. Don’t forget that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR NEW

HEATHER REES // Heather Rees

Heather Rees is a career coach and creative startup strategist for people who want to do work that matters. Blending brass takes practicality and a soulful approach, Heather illuminates your talents, skills and vision while helping you make the changes needed to do more of what you love. Download her 10 Career Fears and How to Overcome Them and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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