By Barry Maher
I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some wonderful successes. But when I think about the stupid mistakes I make on a daily basis, I’m just thankful that I’m not a surgeon. And the thought of being operated on by a fallible human being like myself is great incentive to either stay healthy or to investigate the mysteries of Christian Science or perhaps even psychic healing.
The leading tenant of medicine is, “First, do no harm.” That’s not a mission statement that inspires customer confidence. Are they going to cut me open and then do their damnedest just to break even—just to get me closed up again without making everything worse?
Failure happens. Regularly. To the best and the brightest of us. “The brain is a wonderful organ,” Robert Frost said; “it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get to the office.” I work at home, so mine often stops earlier.
We are all experts on failure. At least we’re all more expert than we’d like to be. For many people, the key to dealing with failure is realizing that while failure is an event, success is not. Success is a process: often a lengthy process and failure is frequently a key component.
You’re not a surgeon; go ahead, do harm.
Tip: Embrace failure.
Tip: Failure is good for you.
“Being in a successful company is easy,” Bill Gates says. “But when you’re failing you’re forced to be creative, and to dig deep and think. In failing companies you always have to question assumptions. I want some people around who have been through that process.”
“Adversity reveals genius,” the Roman poet Horace wrote, “and prosperity conceals it.” Does that mean you might even be better off failing than succeeding or that failure may even be a more successful long-term strategy than success?
Dead Roman gurus and living techno-nerd icons to the contrary, let’s not get too carried away here. Still, studies have shown that entrepreneurs who succeed the first time out are no more likely than anyone else to succeed if they try to repeat their success with a second start-up. That’s in spite of the advantages they have in financing and in business contacts. On the other hand, entrepreneurs who failed before finding success were far more likely to succeed in their next venture.
Nothing succeeds like failure.
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