Failure is not about quitting. It’s Simply Learning What Doesn’t Work.
At least that’s what I’ve found out since grad school. Back in my years in college and even before then, I remember I would do anything I could do avoid being a failure. Things that I’m not proud of today… and wasn’t really proud of then either. However, doing what I did was a means to an end and I was going to achieve what I wanted to get done in school, come hell or high water. My future life depended on it… or so I thought.
In places like Academia, Corporate America, and even the military, there is a struggle for people to be constantly right – to be above water. For us to all be “perfect”. Maria has mentioned to me a couple of times recently a saying they have in the military: “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” I would almost agree that is how it is in most of the world. Most people function in this work life. It’s them against the rest of the world.
If we fail, someone else can take our position. If someone else takes our position, then we can’t have it in the future to use it as a stepping stone to the next big thing.
The Importance of Failure
The truth is that we learn by “try, fail, and adjusting”. Just like in science experiments, when we fail at something, whatever it is, life is trying to teach us a lesson.
What’s the difference between those who are successful in life and those who are not?
Accounting for the fact that we all have varying definitions of success, the one thing that remains the same between all definitions is that successful people learn from their failures and follow those lessons. Those who aren’t successful end up doing the exact same thing, or nothing at all. This can be related to anything that you do in your life.
In the business world, it’s exactly the same. Those who succeed in business have failed many MANY more times than those who are just starting out. Does that make them more of a loser – a failure? In academia, it might. However, because we’re talking actual real world here, those rules don’t apply. Just like any normal person would, when successful business folks try something out, and it doesn’t work, they search to understand why. Later, when they need to do that action again, they can utilize what they learned before to get a better result.
And, due to the simple fact that many tools and platforms online are free or fairly inexpensive, then trying things in online business is cheap as well. We can use this to our advantage and be fearless about experimenting with new ideas and new tools. The rewards far outweigh the risks of failure.
(If you’d like some good strategies from Harvard Business Review in how you can analyze failure in your business better – check this out!)
Income Producing Projects I have FAILED at:
So with that intro all done, here are a few items to show that I failed. I’m proud to show you guys this cause it just goes to show how we’re not all perfect. 🙂
LTD / Amway – While I learned a ton, like many folk that do most MLMs, I alienated myself. I still think it’s a great opportunity (in fact, this week’s podcast will be featuring one of the guys that inspired me the most during my active time in it)… but you have to work it smart. I didn’t.
- What I learned: Most college kids don’t understand that jobs won’t be the end all of their future income needs. Most of them are in college to get that degree to get that job. Coming to them with any kind of business opportunity is kinda weird. Plus, it didn’t help that I was weird about it and tried to come at it from a mentorship perspective. Also, many of the products are somewhat on the luxury side, so marketing it to folks who make minimum income or just a little over probably isn’t the best thing.
Retail Arbitrage on Amazon – Simple idea here. Get marked down products and resell on Amazon.
- What I learned: I need passion in what I’m doing. Being a middleman on my own isn’t that fun. Now, helping others to have success (were I to have it) might have been more fun. On top of that, there wasn’t much margin gained in the sale. Just kind of felt like a waste of time.
Selling random hardware stuff on eBay – During my time at AMS I attempted to sell some random networking equipment we acquired.
- What I learned: Kind of shady that a small business that is focused on one thing (putting on athletic events) has highly technical pieces of equipment that only network engineers would understand what they were. Make sure that you’re brand consistent!
In Reflection / Action Steps
Looking back, my failures to produce income have lead me to be where I am today: helping others make money doing meaningful work because it’s meaningful to me. I’ve realized that I have a passion for helping others get out of their daily grind, and frankly, I know there are multiple ways to do it.
I’d love for you guys to weigh in on some of the things that you’ve “failed” at – business or otherwise. What path did your failures lead you? What did you learn?