The “F” Word

Question: Recently I’ve been unsuccessful with several things in my life including a relationship, a business initiative and with an attempt to buy a house. How do I stop feeling like such a loser?

Answer: You are referring to a concept that most of us call failure. And you can take comfort in knowing that all of us encounter it periodically. Everyone. How each of us deals with failure is another matter. In my book, An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By, I wrote a chapter in which I say that “Mistakes are simply unfinished experiments in the laboratory of life.” I believe that the same statement can be made about failure.

If we look at failure as a finite experience it can be profoundly negative. But if we see failure as merely a step in a process, then there is hope. And hope is generally a positive emotion. It all boils down to how we choose to view what the world might typically deem a failure. The process of failure is actually a process of elimination . . . what works and what doesn’t. We tend to get caught up in the emotions surrounding failure and may be unable to see the good that can come from it. These emotions run the gamut from frustration, embarrassment and inadequacy to anger, despair and blame.

We owe Thomas A. Edison a huge debt of gratitude (as well as a number of other inventors over the centuries). He made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb but when asked about this by a reporter, he responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Imagine the emotional control he must have had. But rather than giving up and accepting each “step” as a failure, he learned how to make little tweaks that eventually led to success.

Perhaps if we look at our failures in a more scientific manner – as part of a discovery process – we can overcome the negative emotion that often is associated with apparent setbacks. This along with a good dose of perseverance, resilience, a positive mindset and coupled with an expectation of good results, can propel us to the success we seek. This is a powerful recipe that all boils down to how we choose to think.

When we choose to learn from our experiences the “steps” toward success are infinitely good. As entrepreneurs and human beings we can then embrace this process as part of the richness and fullness of life.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

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