I want to let you in on a little secret. You’ve been conditioned to avoid failure by your family, your friends and society. Rather than embrace the chance to learn from your mistakes, you’ve been taught to “stay inside your comfort zone” and play it safe.
Now, this isn’t your fault, but it is the No. 1 thing holding you back as an entrepreneur. See, the most successful businesses — the ones that truly stand out — are built on risk-taking and ambition. Embrace failure, and you’re free to take the risks that can reward you with higher profits.
So, how do you do that? I’m going to show you why you need to embrace failure, along with some practical strategies that will change your mindset to do just that.
Failure creates pain, and pain is the best teacher.
I’ve always said that entrepreneurs learn their best lessons from lost money, lost time and lost opportunity. Those are all painful, yes, but that pain serves a purpose: it teaches you what not to do in business.
Think of it like a child touching a hot stove: The first time he does it, it hurts so bad that he never wants to touch it again. The next time he’s near that hot stove, he doesn’t have to convince himself not to touch it again. His instincts remind him that he got burned the first time — and how much it hurt.
The same thing happens when you make a poor decision in business. If you recognize the pain and learn from what you did wrong, you’re going to make the right decision the next time around. But, what happens when you play it safe and run away from the pain?
Great ideas often sound like failures on paper.
The real danger of playing it safe is that it makes you focus on what has already worked in the past. That’s not how leaders lead, or how creative minds innovate. As an entrepreneur, you have to think big and think bold.
So, here’s what I want you to do: Write your big idea down on paper. If it sounds so audacious on paper that other people say it’s crazy, that means you’re thinking beyond what they already know and expect. Now, that doesn’t mean your idea is guaranteed to work, but if your idea does pan out it will be disruptive and attract massive attention.
Rewire your brain to embrace failure.
As I said earlier, we fear failure because it’s all we’ve been taught. However, remember that your brain is a super powerful instrument that can overwrite what you’ve previously learned.
So, how do you rewire your brain to embrace failure? First, become obsessed with the process of learning and improving. Think about it like this: When you focus on the process more than the outcome, you never get overly discouraged about the results because you understand that failure is your best teacher. You can take pride in outlasting, and therefore out-learning, the rest of your competition.
Another practical way to embrace failure is to do things outside of business that make you uncomfortable. I like to attempt six-week “challenges” that force me to do something physical that I’m not comfortable with. I can lift weights all day long, but when it comes to running or hiking I’m like a fish out of water.
It’s that exact fear that pushed me to run a full marathon, and it’s that fear that motivated me to sign up for my friend Jesse Itzler’s latest hiking challenge — nine consecutive climbs to the peak of a Utah mountain in just 30 hours.
These challenges rewire your brain not to back down in the face of possible failure. When you learn to embrace failure rather than run away from it, you discover the answers you need to build your empire, and you develop the resolve to overcome anything in your way.