Failure is inevitable.
I know that may sound like a negative attitude, but it’s the truth. And, it’s not a bad thing. When you accept this fact, it transforms you. You no longer feel like a failure when something doesn’t work out. You know it’s par for the course, and you simply move on.
We don’t expect every relationship to succeed.
We know we have to try on a few people before we find the one that fits. That’s what dating is all about. It’s about learning what you like and don’t like in a partner. What you can live with and what you can’t. Failing at a few relationships is expected. So when one ends, we pick ourselves up and move on.
We don’t expect every job or career move to succeed.
We know we’ll have a variety of jobs over our lifetime. When we finish school and embark on our career, it’s about trying on different jobs to find the one that fulfills us… that feels like the best fit for our talent and lifestyle. We know we’ll likely make a few missteps along the way. We may have to quit a few jobs. We may be let go. We may get fired. And when that happens, we know there’s another job around the corner and we set out to find it.
The best baseball players only hit the ball one-third of the time.
Ty Cobb, the best batter of all time, had a lifetime batting average of .366. Would you consider yourself successful if you only succeeded one third of the time? Or do you expect to have a 100% batting average? And is that really realistic?
Why do we expect every business we start, every business decision we make, or every marketing campaign we employ, to succeed? Of course we’d like that to be the case, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t aim for a 100% success rate, but the reality is, it’s not likely to happen. And, because we expect it, we fall harder when we fail.
So why do we expect a 100% success rate in business?
I believe it’s because we’ve been sold that anyone can build a successful business. I believe it’s because we’ve been sold that all we have to do is follow a secret system or a few simple steps and success will be ours. I believe it’s because we are looking at gurus and mentors who pedal these proven solutions and we believe the promises they are making. Plus, no one talks about their failures!
But the thing is, no one can promise your business will succeed.
No one can promise your marketing campaign will succeed.
Business is a journey. Just like life. Just like relationships. Just like a career.
It requires testing ideas until you find the one that works. It requires landing on the right product or service, at the right price, for the right audience, at the right time. Rarely does that happen the first time out.
Did you know that Apple was founded in 1976 and did not become the dominant worldwide brand it is today until after the iPod was introduced in 2001? Apple suffered many product failures along the way. Today it is the most valuable company in the world. If you think it was a fast, painless, and uneventful path, I suggest you read the Steve Jobs bio by Walter Isaacson.
In the mid-2000’s I studied under a mentor named T. Harv Eker. He once admitted that it took him 10 years and multiple business ventures to finally find success. The thing is, most speakers and success gurus aren’t quite so forthcoming, because they’re selling the dream. So we believe and expect success to happen quickly if we follow the right steps. And while it may sometimes happen, it’s not the norm. Most success takes time and repeated failure to achieve. Thus the term failing forward. By expecting anything different we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. It’s not a fatalist attitude. It’s simply reality.
The solution to this frustration is simple.
Change your expectations.
Know that business is like life, like relationships, like careers. It may take a few tries to get it right. It will most definitely involve failing. But if you use those failures to learn—just like you use failed relationships to move you closer to your soul mate and failed jobs to lead you to the perfect job—you will eventually get there. And, it will be worth the journey.