Failing sucks. Repeat failure is even worse. Yet, when you fail, you test your resilience, wits and sense of self-worth. Neither wins nor losses are ever complete. All things that appear as blessings have a dark side and those that appear to be curses always have a silver lining.
Failure is glorified among entrepreneurs as a rite of passage and loathed by big company types that value pedigree and conformity. Failure is neither something glorious nor the end of the world. It's just a matter of adaptation, resilience and constant improvement.
Admitting to failure (to yourself, and especially to others) is hell. But it's the kind of hell that builds character and moves you forward forcefully in life.
This post is not my personal failure porn. Suffice it to say that I have failed successfully in business and relationships, in career pursuits and in my art, alike, despite a few successes.
Every occurrence brings many lessons. No failure is a waste.
Here are the lessons I've learned in the process:
1) Learn to forgive yourself regularly in order to move on with life, even while promising yourself to make incremental progress every day. It's the only way forward. Only when you accept yourself as you are, will you be able to change for the better.
2) You are one incredibly resilient human being. You'll do tons of things you never thought you could, even if you fail. You'll always bounce back. Life is tough. Failure stings. But life goes on, lessons are learned.
3) Misery loves company. Doesn't mean you should go looking for the company of failures. But know that someone in this world has surely gone through a similar failure before and learned important lessons they used to succeed after that. Learn from others, use their experience as a springboard to improve yourself and your strategy and execution.
4) Nobody owes you a damned thing in this world (except by law, contract or religious decree). Be thankful for what you have and for what people are willing to do to help. Expect nothing. Everything you get is surplus.
5) The cup is always at least half full, even when you're parched, exhausted and at your wit's end. Otherwise, why even bother showing up again? No business or other endeavor is worth depression or worse. Life is the most precious thing, not what you do with it at any one moment or throughout.
6) Your failure is never complete and never as big as you imagine. Going through the process helps you learn how a business works, how to deal with people, what you're good at and where you suck, what are your limits and how far beyond them you can go. Take stock once you have fresh eyes and the sting of failure is much less harsh.
7) Mission trumps means. When you're driven by a mission and not by money or fame, you will take the long view. You will also value people and experiences are above money and what it can buy.
8) Successful people take calculated risks. Entrepreneurs are actually not crazy risk takers, but crazy like foxes with their spending and planning and hiring - actually very much risk-averse.
9) Telling a good story is your key to getting great jobs, meeting amazing people and having awesome experiences. Learn to write and speak well, above all else. But first, learn to tell a good story concisely and with your own flavor and personality.
10) When you do what you love and help people live more meaningful, richer lives (while ideally saving them time and/or money), the funds and recognition will come. Focus on building a good product to help people solve problems and improve their lives, no matter what you're actually doing in life, and the good stuff will follow. But always make sure to have a backup, in case your passion doesn't pay or doesn't have a market big enough to support you and your family.
11) Effective planning and preparation make or break your venture. Make both a habit, along with research and due diligence on potential friends, mates, business partners, associates, employees, etc. Otherwise, you'll only be screwing yourself.
12) The best things in life are free. Not just love and respect, for example, but great resources to improve your life, build a business from scratch, to improve the lives of others and to create and express yourself effectively. In our modern age, you never have an excuse of "circumstances," since there's always someone poorer, hungrier, less educated and more motivated than you to change the world - who's already doing it!
13) Never blame "circumstances" or other people for your failure. It's always a combination of things you could have done differently, wrong timing, lack of funds, wrong team and/or mis-used resourced. Blaming anyone (including yourself) is a waste of time and energy. Learn the lessons quickly and move on and rebuild.
14) Preserve yourself for the long run. It's a long slog and maintaining good health, a healthy diet and actively managing your mental health are the keys to "making it" through the rough patches. There will always be rough patches. Only your perspective and ways of dealing with them should improve over time.
15) Money buys you time and convenience, but it also often makes you dependent on material things. If you minimize your needs and wants, money will stop driving your decisions to the same degree and your life will be simplified and enriched by the truly important things - people and experiences. Cut out the fat and inflation from your home, mind and friend pool.
16) Celebrate small wins. Life is too short and everyone needs motivation to carry on with the energy of winning, even when it's small or fleeting.
17) Don't get too high on your successes and don't get too down on yourself for failure. You're in it for the long run.
18) Use the 80/20 Principle for operating in business and personal life. Keep your standards high, but don't be a perfectionist. Don't waste time on useless encounters and experiences. Develop a taste and keep your standards high and un-compromised. Think MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and nothing more, when it will do just fine.
19) Don't rely on others more than you have to. You're bound to be disappointed and once in a while, pleasantly surprised.
20) Sh*t happens. Sh*t happens in droves, in bunches. When it rains, it pours. Bizarre sh*t like getting fired on your last day of a project. Working yourself out of a job. Then again and again. You get betrayed by friends and coworkers - sometimes even by your family members. You get sick. People come and go from your life. You age and (hopefully) learn a bit of wisdom along the way. People change. You change. Standards change. Industries change and disappear. The only constant is change. DEAL WITH IT. Think, "How I learned to live and love the bomb."
21) You're your own best (and worst) gatekeeper, tastemaker, boss, employee, critic and judge. Know where each voice originates and calibrate your response accordingly. Deal with your baggage ASAP. Otherwise, it'll drag you down and get worse with time until you deal with it. Age is not always kind to this process.
22) Have one of each of these on call in your life for the bad times and the good, just as much: a therapist, a financial adviser, a doctor, a rabbi, a mentor, a good lawyer and at least one true friend.
23) Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was any significant achievement had without some (often high) dose of failure along the way. Stay the course. It's never a straight line to where you want to end up in life.
24) Don't be seduced by stories of instant riches and overnight success. The failure rate is insanely high for startups. Most that succeed have a combination of good timing, great product to solve an important pain point (although not always) and a great team. The trifecta is quite rare, so if you meet (or have a chance to launch) a startup with all three, jump on the chance!
25) Don't try to be all things to all people (it's exhausting and fruitless). Focus on solving a real pain point for a group of people using your best skills. Focus is everything to success.
Keep calm and carry on, amigo! And let me know how I can help. I'm here all week (really :)
Do you have valuable lessons you've learned from past failures? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Like what you see? Visit BlueprintToThrive.com for more great strategies and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.
Follow us @
Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.
*The views expressed herein are his own*