The Beauty of Failure
There is no success without failure.
But for some reason, we’ve been conditioned to either avoid or condemn failure at all costs.
In this post, I want to explain why it is important to appreciate our failures and to look at them as valuable lessons, rather than just a setback that gets brushed under the carpet.
What Happens When We Avoid Failure?
As a society, we love to succeed. We want to win. We want the trophies, the accolades and the awards. And that’s because these things give us some of form of status or recognition in our society.
It is true that we do look at success as something we all want. If you go to any book store and head towards the personal development section, you’ll see the word “success” plastered all over the self-help literature.
But I believe there is a major downside to striving for success.
My experience has taught me the more we tend to strive for success, the more difficult it seems it seems to attain.
I feel that we have become overly attached to the notion of success. We see success as the root of happiness, fame, wealth and the end of our problems. And this eventually leads us to seeing failure as the root of all sadness, austerity and poverty.
Yes, winning does make people happy. And losing makes people sad. But when people rely on winning for their happiness, what would happen if they lose? Are they going to throw tantrum? Would they lose their self-worth?
We really shouldn’t be so judgemental on ourselves. In fact, we shouldn’t be judgemental at all.
During my time as a freelancer, I have learned that in order to achieve success, we have to accept failure.
It is only when we spend time in actually observing our own failure, we are able to learn some valuable lessons. And these lessons will help us on our road to success.
But for many of us, we’re ashamed of our failures. We ignore them and we then carry on pursuing success without learning anything.
It’s why some of us keep on making the same mistake over and over again — we don’t invest in any time to acknowledge and appreciate our failure. We’re only interested in success.
The Most Successful People Are Also Failures
If we look beyond the glitz and glamour of those who are successful, we’ll come to know that these individuals have had a string of failures.
Just look at Sir Richard Branson, the owner and the face of the Virgin (if you didn’t already know). He went through a great deal of failure to get to where he is.
Some of Sir Richard’s failures are catastrophic. There’s the flop of Virgin Cola and the closure of hundreds of Virgin Megastores.
But Sir Richard Branson was never ashamed of his failures. Yes, he was gutted. But he learned to appreciate his failures. And he also saw them as valuable lessons for future business projects.
Another notably successful person that comes to mind is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Did you think she managed to get her first Harry Potter book published with ease? No. Of course not.
Rowling had a string or failures and rejections from publishers who saw no potential from her manuscript. Even though her failures were tough to take, she learned to accept and appreciate them. She believed her failures have made her more grounded.
If you want further inspiration, then take look at this YouTube video where Rowling delivers an incredible speech on the subject of failure:
Since we are on the topic of failure, I want to share one particular failure that gave me many
The Catastrophe of Nutrinally Well
This is one of my most embarrassing failures. (And I have had a my fair share of embarrassing failures.)
Nutrinally Well started off as an ambitious project to create my own brand of health care food supplements.
I invested a great deal of time and money into this project. I researched into different manufacturers and looked into the the market to find any gaps in the supplement industry.
From my research, I decided to produce food supplements for Acai Berry, Green Tea and Milk Thistle.
Once I was happy with my choice of products, I went to design and develop the website and write the content. I then got in touch with a logo designer too.
Once I got my products from the manufacturer, I then installed an e-commerce plugin on my site and then I listed my products on Amazon.
So What Went Wrong?
Well, I didn’t sell a single unit.
I never felt so ashamed of myself. I put so much effort, time and money into this venture. Luckily, I didn’t order large quantities from my manufacturer — otherwise I would’ve been screwed.
What Did I Gain From This Failure?
Besides totally messing up this venture, I learned how to create my own website from scratch; I learned how to list my products on Amazon (which is really easy), and I also learned a great deal about branding and photo shoots too.
And I also learned that the supplement industry was not for me. I preferred consuming a healthy diet (with the occasional KFC :p) — so in reality, this project was going against my own principle.
I did put a lot of effort into this venture. But it failed… And I now know why. I didn’t believe in the product. And that’s the single most important lesson that I learned.
If you do not believe in the product, then you will not succeed. You are literally lying to yourself. You’ll be no different to a sales person working in an electrical retail store who doesn’t give a flying fuck about the technology.
This failure actually helped me to question my own beliefs. Sure I may have the scientific knowledge, thanks to my chemistry degree, and I am also all for living a healthy lifestyle, but could I actually sell those health care supplement?
The answer is no. Because I never tried them. In order to believe in the product, I had to consume the product and experience the benefit first-hand. (A very important copywriting tip).
This project failed because of my egoistical interest in getting money from the little or no experience that I had with using my own product.
I went about this the wrong way. If I had I consumed the product and observed how my product can really help make a difference to people’s lives, then it would have been a success. And that would have been the right way.
This failed project has helped me realised that I like to help people. I enjoy sharing my own experience on things that I have learned. That’s who I am. And that’s why I write this blog.
The process of learning from failure is not an over-rational process. It is an non-judgemental observation of what has happened. It is not about overanalysing every little detail of what went wrong, it is simply asking yourself what you can do right.
Thanks for reading. What are your views on failure? Please leave your comments below.
Image courtesy of Giuseppe Maio