I read a lot of those "secrets to success" articles. You know, the ones that are titled, "10 Attributes of a Successful Entrepreneur" and "How to Win at Business." In my brief experience and taking note of the entrepreneurs I've come to know, the thing we all have in common is a little friend called, "failure."
Failure comes in all shapes, sizes and consequences. For me, it could be a bad sales weekend, or a poor design decision. It's over-scheduling or under-staffing. It could be losing a huge amount of money on a bad investment or hiring the wrong employee. But without meeting our little friend "failure" in a back alley once in a while, we would have no way to know the levels of good we can experience.
When a swimmer reaches the end of a lap and hits the side of the pool to turn around, it's called a "kick-flip." Without mastering this abrupt stop and change of direction, the swimmer could end up with a mouth and nose full of water. But this move is an important one. The kick-flip is a moment of rest for the swimmer, giving them a much needed break, if only for a moment. Successfully mastering this technique will improve the swimmer's overall endurance in the race.
Failure is a lot like a kick-flip. In our search for success, we often hit walls. Sometimes we run into them gently and other times they knock us unconscious. The more we hit them, the better we get, the more we learn and the stronger we become. You can't just read a how-to article on kick-flips and know how to do one. You have to practice--over and over and over.
Once we learn to understand failure in all it's failure-y glory, we can see it as something new, something good even. It can be a chance to change direction. It can even push us to a new place that is better for us.
I don't have all the answers. And I definitely don't know enough to write one of those "How to Succeed" articles, but I know failure well. And he's become a faithful frenemy. The failures I've experienced, although sometimes curl-up-in-a-ball-and-cry-like-a-baby hard, have been gifts in the end. They've given me the gift of the endurance. And every successful entrepreneur I know, does not lack in that department.
Here's to kick-flipping those failures and getting right back in the race.