Why are we so afraid of failure? Is it that ingrained in our DNA? I’m sometimes envious of my fellow New Yorkers. They seem to know how to fail (if that’s even a thing) and how to be totally okay with it too. And do you know what, they’re not embarrassed of it either. They’re happy to fail, and to fail hard. And whey they fall, fail and fall again they get up. And are stronger than ever before. Talking about failing, my friend from NYC quit her Goldman internship 9 weeks in!
This bravery to fail has meant that the US has been the home of The Greats: Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla and so on. These entrepreneurs’ failures were celebrated as much as their wins. Americans do love a good failure-to-success story but here in the UK, not as much!
That could be why we’re lagging behind our friends from across the pond in terms of whopper companies that dominate the world. Yes, our Fintech space is growing massively (hick, hick hooray) but to put our name on the map we need to go further – and being totally okay with failure is the first step to getting there.
If you can afford to fail, you’re luckier than most
Failure is a privilege. To be able to take the plunge to start your own thing, knowing that if you fail you’ll still have something to go back to and that you aren’t gonna land up on the streets. Or the comfort in knowing that if you were to fail now your future would still be (somewhat) intact.
To be able to fail, with little to no detriment to your future, is a pure gift. So, open this present and enjoy the goodies inside. It might not stick around forever.
As a student (up until last year!) I embraced failure and faced it head-on. Why? Because I knew if something I do ended up going horribly wrong – for starters, not many would know about it and second it wouldn’t really affect anyone else (apart from me). All that allowed me to do things that may or may not work because if they don’t work out, hey, I’ll just move on. And if they do, well boy I’ll be glad that I had Gone For It.
I was on Twitter the other day and spotted a brilliant quote about failure. Twitter is full of brilliant stuff. You just gotta sift through the great big pile of utter noise!! And I think it’s the limited character count that makes writers get straight to the point which is what I love.
Lawrence King tweeted: “What if I fail? Nothing happens. You’re right back to where you are now + the experience”. Summed it up perfectly.
So, if all goes to pots you’ll be left with bucketloads of experience which will have given you grit, persistence and most of all – humility. Because there’s nothing greater than a humble person.
People of humility will keep on searching for knowledge, ways to improve and better themselves because they know that they don’t know everything. Let’s work on being a little humbler. The world could do with a dose of it.
Fear it? Do it anyway!
We all have that something we wish we would do. Whether it’s starting our very own little shop on Etsy/Amazon or launching a freelance gig or anything else really there’s always that one thing that holds us back. It could be that we think we lack experience, or that we’re unsure where to start that we end up ditching the whole thing altogether!
But more often than not, it’s the fear of failure that holds us back. So ask yourself this: what would you do if you weren’t so afraid?
Once you’ve failed, you’ll realise that the experience gained is worth its weight in gold. And to be very blunt – if you aren’t failing, perhaps that’s a sign you aren’t trying hard enough. So try harder. And see what it’s like to really fail.
Failures will show you areas that you need to work on and they can hint at where your greatness may lie. You can either choose to let your failures eat you up or you can flip it on its head and use them to propel you further. Go on, choose the latter. You’ve totally got this.
In my job, I am failing all the time. I’m a grad which means I’m always learning. The quicker I fail the quicker I can learn. I realised we all put way too much pressure on what others think of us and we expect ourselves to be perfect 24/7. That’s nuts. Fail fast and forward. And don’t worry – no one’s really watching!
There’s risk in absolutely everything. There’s a risk in starting your own thing and there’s a risk in not starting. So pick your risk. Life ain’t risk-free but that’s the beauty of it.
My taste of failure
During high school I was predicted a grade A in my Maths ALevel but I missed the grade. I even had it remarked not once but twice. Yeah let’s not even go there! What a bummer. And it haunted me for ages. I still remember that day receiving my grades while on summer holiday and to be honest with you, I still get uncomfortable when I think about it. As a result of this crappy grade, I didn’t get in to my dream uni and for a moment there, it felt as though it went downhill.
Fast forward to life at uni, I worked hard but I refused to let my grades define me. We are more than our grades and it took me a while to figure it out. But this gave me a drive to succeed.
Often, failures are simply blessings in disguise.
I still think that had I have gone to a snooty university (I’m not going to name and shame here!) I reckon I’d probably have turned out a little different. After all, our surroundings have a huge impact on us. Whatever we tell ourselves.
Going to the uni I went to meant that I had the grit to work for things. I didn’t get my internship handed to me on a silver platter like some others simply because of uni they went to. And all that work taught me to never give up. And, when I finally landed my internship, I was over the moon. It doesn’t matter where you start; but where you land up. Where you are now does not determine where you’ll be in 1,2,3 ,or even 10 years.
How badly do you want it?
I guarantee you that what you want right now, someone else is simply going for it because they want it badly enough and they’re not afraid to fail or let anything stand in their way. It’s not about smartness and all that IQ stuff. It’s about willingness and consistency.
You know those Dyson hoovers? Those bagless, techy hoovers. Well they weren’t always quite so cool. Sir James Dyson, the man himself, had created more than 5k prototypes. That’s pretty much five thousand failures.
I mean surely, after number 100 you quit. See it’s not going anywhere. But no, he continued. And look where he is today. His swanky hoovers (never thought I’d call a hoover swanky!) are the Rolls-Royce of hoovers. He’s created an empire. One that Britain is proud of.
You ever heard of the butterfly effect? Well, it’s the theory that something small at an early stage your life can lead to something much, much bigger down the line.
Ever wondered where you’d be now if you hadn’t picked those friends, went to that school, chose that summer camp or any other decision years back. And it’s precisely this butterfly effect that reminds me to embrace my failures. See, if I hadn’t failed, I would not be where I am now.
So don’t wish away your failures. You could end up wishing away your future.
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.