Most people argue that ‘failure’ is a dirty word and something you should avoid at all costs, especially in the world of business. Contrary to this popular belief, Robert Kiyosaki was once quoted saying that “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
Across the media, we are constantly bombarded with cliché images and stories of how ‘successful’ people have accomplished fame, wealth, and ultimate success in their line of work. Some of the common beliefs include that having ego, pride, self-confidence, and other traits pivoting around self-importance is the key to success. To make things worse, if you experience ‘failure’ in any shape or form, you are seen as a misfit, or a person with limited potential.
Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success
The sad truth is that the media is misguiding the public, especially young aspiring entrepreneurs, and intentionally ignoring other key ingredients that constitute the path to success. These would have to include having humility, passion, conviction, and tolerance to failure, as well as the willingness to put in the ‘hard yards’. As an entrepreneurship coach, I am all too familiar with the reality that today’s generation of business owners are particularly impatient and intolerant to setbacks, as they pursue this journey.
The Jagged Road:
The path for any aspiring serial entrepreneur is a long-term prospect, most often ending abruptly with no rewarding outcome. It’s a lonely jagged road, full of challenges, fears, and painful experiences. I recall my early humble years in business, and the constant challenges I faced. Just to name a few, this included dealing with the sceptics; the dirty tricks my competitors played to force me out of the industry; the avalanche of staffing issues, etc. Without a doubt, my patience, tolerance, and desire to be a successful entrepreneur myself was tested time and time again.
It’s a lonely jagged road, full of challenges, fears, and painful experiences
In a recent interview with Aussie serial entrepreneur Janine Allis, I was able to mirror these experiences with those of Janine, and intimately explore her successful 16-year career within the retail industry. I was curious to understand her positive philosophy to failure, and how she embraced it whilst building her fame and fortune in the business world.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit:
Without a doubt, Janine Allis is an icon within the Australian business community, having built her Boost Juice business from her home, into a global juicing empire across 13 countries. Janine’s retail investments, comprising also of Salsas Fresh Mix Grill and Cibo Espresso, yield $2.0 billion dollars in sales annually. Her story to success is testament to her tenacity, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit.
During my discussion with Janine, I discovered that effective leadership is about having humility, being accountable to mistakes, be willing to sacrifice and serve others, as opposed to having hubris or narcissistic traits. We discover this common thread amongst many other great serial entrepreneurs. Some of my favourites include Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey.
A catalyst to Innovation:
In 1985, Steve Jobs was the man who soon became known as ‘the entrepreneur that hit rock bottom’, after his failed attempts in Apple. He was marginalized and exiled to a virtual office he called ‘Siberia’, and was also quoted saying that he was ‘a very public failure’. His story of failure was not uncommon, but clearly illustrating the realities and hardships that serial entrepreneurs face.
Despite such humiliating circumstances, Jobs returned to Apple with a new attitude and the rest is...‘iHistory’. He discovered the importance of humility and effective leadership on his endeavour to rebuilding his empire and his reputation.
So what can we learn from this story and those of others, and the impact ‘failure’ has on innovation and achieving long term success ? As Janine stated, ‘if things didn’t go wrong, I wouldn’t be the person I am today; I wouldn’t have a business with the right culture, systems, products, etc…… you have to make mistakes [to innovate]”.
Education is Paramount:
Whilst we observe time and time again numerous case studies and testimonials from successful people about the importance of failure, as educators, teachers and mentors, we must teach our youth how to interpret and manage failure, as well as accepting it in life and within our careers with a positive attitude.
It is my view that a successful career shouldn’t be just about going to university and securing the right qualification for the right job. In contrast, educators must encourage students to also learn within real workplace enviroments. This philosophy is shared by education provider Ducere. Students are encouraged to experiment and adapt their thoughts within a real commercial environment, as well as develop their skills to best handle setbacks whilst pursuing their commercial endeavours within the company.
we must teach our youth how to interpret and manage failure, as well as accepting it in life and within our careers with a positive attitude
In Australia, we must go one step further and also tackle the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, which is prevalent within corporate workplace culture. This issue has derailed many aspiring intrapreneurs, as well as prevented innovation and new product developments to flourish through ‘fail testing’.
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