Imagine if we list each person in an Excel spreadsheet with two columns, one column with their name and the other with every mistake they made throughout their lifetime. I’ll bet you that if you sort out this spreadsheet with the most people who made mistakes on top of the list, you will find that those are the people that are also the most successful.
People ask me about the “secret” behind my success in business. Most of them think success is related to luck, in other words, you have to get lucky to become a successful entrepreneur; entirely false. Success and luck don’t have much in common.
What is the difference between success and luck?
Luck is an outcome that does not relate to your effort in any way. You win the lottery – it took you no effort or time, just luck. Success is earned, through years or decades of hard work.
When people congratulate a woman with her pregnancy everyone thinks of a successful outcome, but nobody thinks about how much effort the couple had to go through to reach this result.
It’s exactly the same in entrepreneurship. We all see the resulting success because it’s pretty easy to notice outcomes such as a company that rose to $100 million in annual revenue. However, nobody knows what the company had to go through to reach this milestone. Most people don’t know how many times the company failed, how much money was lost, how many people quit, or how many times it almost went bankrupt. Nobody talks about these things or pays attention to it. Success is all we talk about, but we don’t learn much from it.
There is a great saying that illustrates the secret behind success: Fail fast and fail often.
Remember this quote from Michael Jordan?
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Success is made up of failures and defeats.
You do not become successful overnight, and very few people win the lottery.
Most people make mistakes as they start to build their business and decide that this is not their passion. Some people, however, make the same errors and still don’t give up as they continue failing; eventually they will succeed.
Take any sport, let’s say racing, it’s the only sport I like. Can you imagine you or me getting into a race car for the first time and racing a perfect race? Chances are it’s not going to happen. Those people who want to become great at racing (or any sport) first start practicing, make a lot of mistakes, but slowly moving towards reaching their goal.
I assume most people who read this blog are interested in entrepreneurship.
Perhaps some of you have a startup of your own; some haven’t started a company just yet. I want to make sure you understand that entrepreneurship is the most stressful profession in the world. It’s the only job where you fail at 90% of everything you do daily.
When I first started writing this blog, I wrote articles about my personal failures such as What I Learned from Sacking 100 employees and Losing $1.5M.
When I asked my friends for feedback they told me: “Why do you write about failures so much, you should write more about success!”
I believe that most of us benefit much more from reading about failure rather than success.
Imagine mountain climbers, who have conquered Mt. Everest and wrote only about their successful outcomes, how they reached the top of the highest mountain, their feelings and energy they received, etc. How successful would their readers be if they try to conquer Mt. Everest after reading their books and blog posts? Not very. But what if they wrote about all their failures, all the dangers, all the setbacks? This type of writing will increase chances of success with their readers.
Even though the number of people who want to attempt to climb Mt. Everest will dwindle down from 100 to 10, after reading about the dangers that other climbers experienced. I still think this is the right type of material to read for newbies.
We learn from mistakes, not from success.
We should not write about success all the time, it’s just not that useful for the readers. We decrease their chance of succeeding, by only writing about our achievements.
As you read this blog post, you might think that I’ve made it and spend most of my time living the “good life”. I’ll have to disappoint you, it’s not the case. I wrote about some of the failures and problems I have been going through in my post here.
Gaining experience in entrepreneurship is the same as athlete training.
You cannot achieve results in a sport overnight, you train and fail each and every day until one day you get better at it.
How long will it take? The more you fail the faster you’ll succeed.
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