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Turn Failure into Success - 3 Real-life lessons to help you move past failure

We grow up afraid of errors and imperfection hence few of us cope with turning failure into success.

Did a door get slammed in your face? Did you lose a client or a job? Or maybe you just made some wrong decisions. Out there in the world, the definitions of failure are very different, simply because we all have different benchmarks, values, and belief systems. But failure is part of the game. Without it, there’s no room for improvement. It might sound like a cliché to say mistakes are part of the entrepreneurial journey, but the wonderful thing about them is that it’s entirely up to you to decide how to look at them.

What is Failure?

Have you ever thought that you have something in common with other great people like… Einstein, Churchill, Edison? Well, you do. They all failed. We all fail at something. So what turned them into examples of success? Being fearless. For them failing was just a learning opportunity and helped them eliminate one of the options from the list. Many times, failure acts as a stepping stone not only identifying new opportunities but also exploitation of those opportunities.

It is already known that we are born only with 2 fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. So where did all those other fears that hold us back come from? If we fear failure, it is our choice to use it as proof of how inadequate we are. Or, we can look at failure as an incredible learning experience. It is so easy to find successful people who have experienced failure and accepted it as a part of life.

1. Keep going, turn failure into success – Airbnb

The story of Airbnb started in 2007 with the two roommates living in San Francisco who, like all aspiring entrepreneurs were too broke to pay the rent. Ten years later they raised 30 billion dollars. How did they start? They decided to fit 3 air mattresses in their apartment and to promise their guests a breakfast too. Their first guests, two men and one woman, showed up. Each guest paid $80 to stay on the air mattress. They soon realized it could be a big idea and together they started to build it into a business that, between 2016 and 2018, had its private valuation skyrocketed to $31billion. But to get here, the struggle was real and they story became “a story of pure unadulterated hustle” (Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures).

In 2015, Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO at Airbnb recalled in one article exactly these early days of constant rejection that Airbnb faced: he made public the answers of 7 inventors who didn’t believe what Airbnb could do and foresee what they did do and decided not to support or to reply to the young startup’s inquiry.

“Next time you have an idea and it gets rejected, I want you to think about these emails” (Brian Chesky).

Because the rejections didn’t stop them and they looked for alternative fundraising methods, including selling cereals. So keep going! Airbnb founders are amongst the best examples of determined founders. Even though they faced so much rejection (more than those 7 emails) they belied in their idea and and turned a possible failure into success.


2. Make mistakes, but learn from them – Soichiro Honda

All of us are familiar of Honda Motors, established by Soichiro Honda after the Great Depression the 1930s. While living in Japan, he followed his passion for cars by starting to work in his little workshop. His goal was to develop the concept of the piston ring and to sell it to Toyota. The day came when he completed the piston ring, but after sending a sample to their engineers, he was told that the rings didn’t meet their standards. Instead of feeling discouraged and he worked another 2 years to turn the failure into success: with a redesigned product, he won a contract with Toyota.

Today, Honda corporation is one of the largest automotive companies which succeeded because of a committed decision and continuous adjustments. The life of Soichiro Honda is often used as an example of inspiring story of a man who learned from his mistakes and overcame the obstacles.


3. View failure as a part of a process – J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling, an author whose book series has been translated into 73 languages, sold millions of copies and accrued over $20 billion through movie adaptations and sponsorships, needed years of perseverance to become the success she is today.

As she struggled with depression, raising a child on her own and living off meager unemployment benefits, she resumed work on her book in cafes while her daughter was asleep. After finishing the first three chapters of Harry Potter, she sent the book to publishers and got rejected over and over.

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” (J.K. Rowling)

After sending the manuscript to 12 publishers, the editor at Bloomsbury Publishing company was convinced by his daughter to publish Rowling’s novel. Soon after, J.K. Rowling went from being a jobless single mother living off unemployment benefits to one of the best-selling authors of all time.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” (J.K. Rowling).

Therefore, if you have a dream or a passion and you keep getting rejected or running into failure, don’t let that stop you. Failure is just a concept, a subjective reality and it can mean distinct things to people. But despite all differences, it is proven that failures are only lessons.

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