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After my post of the roller coaster of entrepreneurship, I thought it would be great to write about the part of entrepreneurship that is inevitable. Failure.

An omission of occurrence or performance

Success teaches us many things but nothing teaches you about your shortcomings (in business or life) like failure.  It is the clearest indicator that something you have done did not work.  While success can be hard to measure and relative, failure is much easier.

Tried a new marketing program and it received no traction? Fail.  Created a great dish on your menu and it is panned? Fail. Create a business around a new technology but it is never adopted and no one has a use for it? Fail. The list goes on and on.

In business or life you will fail.  If you haven’t failed, you aren’t trying.  The good news is that the sting is always temporary and fades over time.  It’s not about failing but getting back up and trying again.

Thomas Edison

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

My life has definitely been a journey of ups and down and windy roads.  People ask me how I get up after getting knocked down.  The truth is that it takes me about 3 weeks of woes me and then I get pretty sick of my self pity and get back in the game.  When I actually thought about it, I follow 5 steps to overcome my failure.

5 step approach to overcoming failure

1. Recognize that you didn’t succeed

If you can’t admit that something isn’t working or that you failed, you can rectify or learn from the situation.  If your business has been open 3 years and it isn’t self sustaining, its a hobby (Mr Wonderful from Shark Tank).  Investing in a marketing program but seeing unacceptable returns?  Admit it. Made a bad decision hiring an employee?  Admit it and deal with it.

2. Recognize failure is temporary

I didn’t get this far in life by not succeeding.  This far does not mean I am a millionaire.and my life is perfect  It means that I have created a life situation that I am happy with.  If this doesn’t apply to you, you are wrong.  You have friends & family who care about you and believe in your ability to succeed.  A business setback doesn’t change who you are

3. Learn from the situation

I think through why I was unsuccessful in my endeavor.  For example: when I joined the food tech startup and it was a mismatch, what did I not see when I was interviewing?  How could I have improved my chances or discovered what I needed to know.  I have also tried marketing programs that went no where.  I always do a post mortem.

4. Make a decision and execute

Many times when its a business failure, you need to make a decision to end end the project, move on, adjust a strategy or end a relationship.  When I spent 5 months trying to get a company off the ground and got no where, I had to decide to move on or not.  I decided there were a few things that weren’t going to work, admitted failure and moved on.

5. Do something nice for yourself to help you get back in the game

You can’t beat yourself up after you have made your decision.  Take a minute, lick your wounds, and then do something fun.  Treat yourself to a night out, have fun with your significant other, go on a few hikes, whatever helps you realize that you will be successful the next time and just need to try again.

While writing this blog, I came across a quote from Michael Jordan.  While none of us are likely as good at anything as he was at basketball, after reading the below I think you’ll agree that we should all want to “Be like Mike”.

“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.”

– Michael Jordan