Embracing Failures

Manish Mathur, is a Senior Enabler at Espark-Viridian, India

Want a massively successful business? Then be prepared to fail!
You’re supposed to. Think about it.

From where you are now, you want to either start up a business or grow your existing business in a different and faster way. Therefore, you can’t know what the territory you are entering looks like. Sure, you can look at what has happened to those who have gone before you (incidentally, definitely do that!) but the changing landscape of the world and various other factors in play, will make your jouney a unique one. You will be out of your comfort zone and as a result you will get some things wrong, but that’s cool.
If you really want to develop as an entrepreneur, and as a person, you need to have a growth mindset and keep learning all the time. Those who succeed are those who see getting things wrong as a necessary part of becoming better at what they do. Picked the wrong sales strategy? Fine, learn from it and change your approach. Made a mistake when you hired that person? Find the best way to deal with it and learn for the next hire. Of course, we’re not talking about being reckless here. Good entrepreneurs take calculated risks, not crazy ones. But if you are serious about developing yourself and your business (are you?) then believe me you will definitely make errors. So here are a couple of pointers to think about, before you make the big decisions.
Ensure the outcome is ‘data rich’
Matthew Syed, In his book ‘Black Box Thinking’, talks about how the aviation industry leads the way in terms of learning from failures. The black box records everything that was going on at the time of a crash, from every instrument reading to not only capturing the words of conversation in the cockpit but also the mood and tone. Analysts therefore have every detail of what went wrong – so they can learn and improve. What would be in the black box for your next major business decision? What data do you need to capture from the next move you make in your business? What are you tracking to make sure that the next campaign, the next hire, the next strategic move is even better?
Ego? Let go
Here is the real truth of the matter, ego exists. Perhaps it is the driving factor that pushes us forward, even at a subconscious level, to want to achieve. But it definitely has a dark side, which allows us to experience failure and curtailing our ambition to continue putting ourselves out of our comfort zones. I know from personal experience that emotions can take control. I’ve felt its grip many times before and it has affected my behaviour. But, like everything, you can change and improve. The next time it happens take a breath, write down how you feel and then, more importantly, write down why you feel that way? Remember that by making mistakes you are learning to become a better version of yourself, creating a more prepared and knowledgeable business. So why cloud your mind and your future decisions with negativity? Emotions will always bring out more feelings but if you practice self-awareness (it’s not easy!) you will get to the point where you can make the ultimate choice – how do I choose to react?
The wise Sir Ken Robinson said;
“If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original”.
I want to borrow this quote and change the emphasis slightly. Before you make that scary decision accept you might make a mistake, look at your metrics and check your ego. Then ask “am I ‘prepared’ to be wrong?”. I hope so.

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2 thoughts on “Embracing Failures

  1. Mahendra Sharma

    Good one, I am prepared to go wrong is a nice lesson to be learned. As an entrepreneur I have failed many times and that has been a great lesson to go stronger next time.

  2. Vishnu Kant

    Very true. i like the ‘black box thinking’ metaphor.
    There is another book, The Power of Failure by Fran Tarkenton on similar lines, establishing that innovation is simply not possible without failing, AND building on your failures.

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