Lessons on failure, grit & persistence

When most of us fear failure, we walk away from our boldest ideas. Instead of being original, we play it safe – doing the status quo, or getting stuck in the rut, or selling conventional products and familiar services. But exceptional people have a different response to the fear of failure. Yes, they’re afraid of failing, but they’re even more afraid of failing to try.

In work and in life, there are two kinds of failure: actions and inactions. You can fail by starting a company that goes out of business or by not starting a company at all. By getting left at the altar or by never proposing marriage. Most people predict that it’s the actions they’ll regret more. We cringe at the anguish of declaring bankruptcy or getting rejected by the love of our lives. But we are dead wrong.

When people reflect on their biggest regrets, they wish they could redo the inactions, not the actions. “In the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did, which is why the most popular regrets include not going to college, not grasping profitable business opportunities, and not spending enough time with family and friends.”

Ultimately, what we regret is not failure, but the failure to act. Knowing that is what propels people to become better than their peers. Exceptional people I met, whether they are employee or investors, consistently told me they weren’t afraid of failing, but of failing to do something for themselves and equaling to nothing at the end of the day.

Exceptional people see failure not as a sign that their ideas are doomed, but as a necessary step toward success. We learn more from failure than success: for example, evidence shows that space shuttles are more likely to make it to orbit after botched launches. A failure signals a gap in knowledge or a poor strategy, and motivates us to go back to the drawing board and get it right. Without failure, complacency can creep in. At NASA, the Challenger disaster happened after 24 successful space flights, which led to overconfidence.

With original ideas, failure is inevitable, because it’s impossible to predict how technologies will evolve and tastes will change. Mark Cuban passed on Uber. In the early days of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin tried to sell their search engine for less then $2 million, but their potential buyer turned them down.

Publishers rejected Harry Potter because it was too long for a children’s book.

Throughout history, the great originals have been the ones who failed the most, because they were the ones who tried the most. Most of Thomas Edison’s 1,093 patents went nowhere; Picasso had to produce over 20,000 pieces of art to make a few masterpieces. We see the same trend with entrepreneurs.

Before Uber, Travis Kalanick’s first startup declared bankruptcy. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a reporter. Steve Jobs flopped with the Apple Lisa and got forced out of his own company before making his triumphant return — and even after the iPod succeeded, he made a bad bet on the Segway personal transporter. And with all of Richard Branson’s success in airlines, trains, music, and mobile, he has also presided over the failure of Virgin cola, cars, and wedding dresses.

So when we are terrified of failure, we stay stagnant…with dire consequences.

What will be the infectious effect of staying stagnant

jack-maJack Ma, otherwise known as Ma Yun, the Chinese business magnate and philanthropist speaks on why some people have continued to remain poor and why it seems they are not growing from their stagnant status. After all, money is just a resource yardstick used in modern society to define success/failure.
In his words, “The worst people to serve are the Poor people”. According to him, most poor people are simply difficult to serve or please, and they would always do this when you try to help them:

– Give them free, they think it’s a trap.

– Tell them it’s a small investment, they’ll say can’t earn much.

– Tell them to come in big, they’ll say no money.

– Tell them to try new things, they’ll say they are not sure it will work.

– Tell them it’s traditional business, they’ll say hard to do.

– Tell them it’s a new business model, they’ll say it’s MLM.

– Tell them to run a shop, they’ll say it robs them of freedom.

– Tell them run new business, they’ll say they have no expertise.

Then he spoke on what they have in common:

– They love to ask google, but do nothing with what they learnt from google

– They listen to friends who are as hopeless as them,

– They think more than an university professor and do less than a blind man.

– Just ask them, what can they do. They won’t be able to answer you.

His advice to “poor people”…

Instead of your heart beating faster, why not you just act faster a bit;

Instead of just thinking about it, why not start doing something about it.

Instead of looking for handouts, why not learn and WORK HARD at getting the things done by yourself.

Poor people fail because of one common behaviour: Their Whole Life is About Waiting.

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