Listen closely: failure may be trying to help you

We dismiss failure with such ease that we often forget to pay attention to what it’s telling us. Here’s what failure could really mean – and why you should pay attention.

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SHARK TANK - "1020" - Body-board entrepreneur wins sweet redemption after failure of 'worst pitch ever'
SHARK TANK - "1020" - Body-board entrepreneur wins sweet redemption after failure of 'worst pitch ever'

You see the posts proliferating all over social media. An entire cottage industry sprouted up to espouse the virtue of failure. But the fetishism of failure actually does a disservice to all those it’s intended to soothe. Of course there is value to be extracted from the remnants of failure, and you should never avoid taking a shot solely to avoid the sting of rejection. Such a risk-averse mindset is the best way to guarantee a life of mediocrity.  

But let’s be honest: No one actually wants to fail, and for good reason. Failing sucks. And dismissing failure with such ease – or worse, acting like failure was a perfectly acceptable outcome among many  – means you won’t hear what failure is actually trying to tell you. And you may just lose that one death-defying chance to pivot, which could have changed everything. ​

Here are three lessons failure may be trying to teach you that should not be ignored: 

1- Your idea does not have product market fit. Or in other words, not enough people experience the problem you are trying to solve, or are willing to pay enough for your solution to make it a viable business. 

2 – You are missing a skill set or personality trait to execute your vision. No founder has the full complement of skills to single-handedly realize their own dream. Failure may be trying to amplify your shortcomings so you get to work mitigating them. 

3 – This one is harder to hear, but failure might be trying to tell you that you are just not cut out for this pursuit.Or more often, that your words and your heart are not aligned.  There is often a massive delta between what we envision and what manifests, and no one is condemned to live another person’s life if you change your mind.  Failure might be telling you to cut bait and follow your heart.

And most likely, maybe failure is just trying to test your resolve, and sharpen your grit against the grindstone of rejection. In which case, shake it off. Just don’t get used to it. 

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