How Do You Define Failure?

The question of how do you define failure is an important one. The way you think of failure strongly impacts the results you get. Consider this quote of Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” In other words, don’t give up so easily and when you do experience success don’t stop there. There are more successes to be had. To get to success often requires us to pass through a number of failures, or at least what seems like failure before we succeed.


Most of us have heard the response of Thomas Edison when asked about the times he tried to make a light bulb and it didn’t work, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The message is that he learned from each attempt and each time he was spurred on to make changes until he did succeed. If we were to ask him “how do you define failure?” he would have perhaps responded with another of his quotes, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” At some point in his life he embraced a philosophy of living that caused him to keep trying until he was successful. As Winston Churchill put it, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” Make those so-called failures learning experiences and not then push on.

I suspect that both Churchill and Edison, in addition to being doers, were also dreamers who imagined how things could be and then acted on those dreams.


But We’re Not Edison or Churchill

So you’re not Thomas Edison or Winston Churchill. What difference does that make? Even if nothing you have tried seems to work, is that reason to surrender and go home? In order for a business to grow and improve we need to have the correct attitude. Make it an attitude that we can succeed and that our failures are just another way to obtain new knowledge on the way to success. When we experience setbacks we need to avoid wallowing in self-pity, learn, improvise, and continue to strive toward our goals. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and for employee development. If you are an entrepreneur then you must be able to accept temporary setbacks without giving up. Likewise, if you want your employees to grow in knowledge and productivity then you have to allow the same for them.

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As always, your comments are welcomed.


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