Humans are preconditioned to avoid pain and to move toward pleasure. We avoid failure because we associate that with pain. As a society, we also view failure as a sign of weakness and defeat.
However, you may be surprised to know that you should embrace failure and fail often. Here are eight reasons why:
1. Failure is a great way to learn.
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” -- Thomas A. Edison
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Those who fail the most, learn the most. When you fail, you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Venture capitalists have been known to invest in entrepreneurs that have undergone multiple entrepreneurial failures. For some, an entrepreneur who has never experienced failure is untested and has not learned from adversity.
My YouTube channel, ChrisDunnTV, was stagnant for several years. After having several videos fail to break 1,000 views, I finally discovered the type of content people found most valuable. By using the failure to help me learn what people wanted, I was able to capture over two million views in less than a year.
2. You discover what’s missing.
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” -- C.S. Lewis
Failure is simply a signal that something is missing. Failure reveals what needs to change for you to succeed. Through failure, you uncover gaps in yourself, your strategies, your systems, your business and your team. You learn where your weaknesses or limitations are and what needs to change or be improved.
Related: 3 "F"ing Facts About Failure
Through failure, you discover where the obstacles are. You can then formulate a plan to push through the barriers, climb over them or go around them.
Like many entrepreneurs, I struggled to stay fit because I convinced myself I was too busy to eat a healthy diet and work out regularly. I discovered that "trigger failures" were leading to my inability to lose weight.
Trigger failures are those pesky little habits or conditions in your environment that guarantee failure before you start. Once you discover and eliminate trigger failures, it’s like opening up a race track towards achieving your goals.
3. Failure makes you pause.
“[T]here actually are times when you should give up because you’re doing something in error. But if you’re convinced that what you’re doing is correct then you should never give up.” -- Elon Musk
Failure forces you to pause. It gives you time to analyze what you are doing and consider whether you should be pivoting, continuing or giving up. It makes you consider, “How badly do I really want this?”
As Stephen Covey says, “[i]f the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
Without time for reflection, you may end up wasting effort, energy, resources and time on the wrong ladder.
4. Failure may be a sign of coming success.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” -- T. S. Eliot
Failure can be a sign of coming success. Big failures are often accompanied by big achievements. You cannot hope to achieve anything of real substance by staying small, insulated and safe.
Robert Kiyosaki puts this concept across really well, “[w]inners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
5. Failing often builds an immunity to fear.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” -- Paulo Coelho
A fear of failure limits you. If you are afraid to fail, you are also afraid to take risks and scale fast. A fear of failure stumps growth. By failing often, you learn to build an immunity to fear. When you are not afraid of failure, you can embrace feedback and not be paralyzed by criticism.
As Aristotle put it, “[t]here is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
In my early twenties, I was over $90,000 in debt and nearly out of cash. After failing in my first business, I learned that facing my worst fears wasn't that scary.
Even though I had to make short-term sacrifices, the fear soon vanished and freed up my mind to build a seven-figure business over the next two years.
6. Failure builds entrepreneurial character traits.
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” -- Wilma Rudolph
Failure is necessary for the building of valuable character traits for entrepreneurial success. Character traits such as tenacity, perseverance, and resilience are all vital for any kind of long-term success. Your ability to push through failure where others quit will lead you on the road to success.
7. Failure sweetens success.
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -- Winston Churchill.
Success is so much sweeter after you have experienced failure. When you can recall humiliating moments of failure before you achieved success, the success feels so much more valuable. You also don’t take success for granted because you know how hard it was to come by.
As Ellen DeGeneres said, “[i]t’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”
8. Failure makes for a great comeback story.
“No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.” -- Chris Hardwick
Failure makes excellent comeback stories. Remember how Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he founded, before returning back to it just over 10 years later as its CEO? Failure makes you more “human” to others. It makes you more relatable. Failure that is earned and didn’t come easy increases others admiration of you.
Failure can also motivate the people around you such as your employees, your investors, and your peers to work harder for you, stand with you or offer more assistance.
There is another great advantage of having multiple failures on your belt -- it keeps you humble. An entrepreneur who has never experienced failure tends to be arrogant. Even worse, this arrogance can feed the false belief that you are infallible and expose you to devastating mistakes down the line.
Failure may hurt but we should view it as a positive experience. We should fail and fail often. Because in doing so, we also open ourselves to opportunities for success.