"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement" -- C.S. Lewis
Failure or the fear of failure can be crippling to many of us taking risks in life, and we have been programmed by our teachers, parents, and society to believe it's negative. In school, I hit the books hard because I feared receiving the dreaded "F" (Fail) and being classified as an underachiever. That was years ago, however. My sentiments have since changed after studying some of the most influential people in business and discovering that most of them failed their way to success. I concluded that failing in school and failing in business are not in the same category. As a young entrepreneur with three businesses of my own, I now embrace failure and recognize it's an essential component of growth. If you're in business, here are three strong reasons why failure should not be feared:
1. The Most Successful People are Failures
Examine the leading names in any industry and you'll find that these individuals had to overcome adversity to reach the top. In business, setbacks and mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn and reassess your approach.
Cindy Freland, President of Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc (MSS) refers to failure as "good experiences." Her previously two unsuccessful businesses taught her a valuable lesson in having enough operating capital. Ms. Freland's current company MSS is going 16 years strong.
Automotive leader Henry Ford's first company went out of business. His second and third companies also flopped. Mr. Ford's confidence was unscathed and he went on to become one of the greatest and most admired entrepreneurs in American history.
2. You Become Resilient
The old adage "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger" holds true for entrepreneurs. To thrive we have to develop thick skin and posses unwavering faith. If we fail, we must pick ourselves up and try again.
Award winning author Mare Cromwell self-published her first book and printed 10,000 copies to sell. Unfortunately for her, she only sold 2,400 copies and the other 7,600 collected dust in her basement over the years. With the support of friends, Ms. Cromwell self-published another book that has received several awards, and is even being considered for a movie script.
"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are." - Bernice Johnson Reagon
3. It Causes You to Evolve
Being an entrepreneur is all about growing and learning through diverse experiences. When you make mistakes, you'll learn what not to do next time.
Darryl Jones, Co-founder of Global Housing Alliance, learned to appreciate success daily and not take anything for granted. His previous company of 15 years folded in 2009 as a result of the U.S. housing market collapse. He believed one of his mistakes was having the company too dependent upon him for capital. Mr. Jones eventually bounced back and combined forces with other like-minded individuals to form his current company - which does not rely on him as its sole source of funding, and is an even stronger venture than before.
"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it." ― Andy Rooney
Do not allow failure or the fear of failure to paralyze you from getting started or starting over. The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself -- It's all mental. You only truly fail when you quit trying.