by Craig Kronenberger, CEO and founder of Stripe Theory
Albert Einstein once said, “Failure is success in progress,” In other words, failure is what spurs us on, often even more than success. While success will simply reward you for completion, failure is a forced opportunity to examine the faults and errors you’ve made along the way. It doesn’t sound pretty, but without failure, some of the greatest inventions known to man wouldn’t exist.
If you are anything like me, you probably crave those “a-ha” moments that lead you to a great idea. But, one thing I’ve learned through years of experience in developing startups from the ground up, as well as plenty of failures throughout my career, is that this same feeling can also arrive when reflecting upon why exactly a particular idea or decision ended up as a failure. It is this moment of reflection that will propel any business forward, giving you insight into what does and doesn’t work and, more importantly, why. Of the five startups I have personally managed and built, three have been successful, one is still out there, and one has ultimately been an unsuccessful venture. Instead of looking back at this failure with disappointment, my reflections leave me excited for the future, of the possibilities that lie ahead and serve as a reminder to prepare myself for future opportunities.
It can be tough to look at failure as a good thing, especially when it has the potential to impact your life and livelihood. But, there are many upsides to embracing failure and knowing how to manage it.
Here are three reasons why failure is essential for success.
1. It’s a reality check.
No matter how hard it may be, know that failure simply means you get another shot to try it all again and do it better. There’s a great lesson to be learned in how a dream can appear simple on paper, and even easy in the initial planning stages, but when it comes to executing it, problems start cropping up in every direction. This isn’t your fault, or a result of poor planning, this is simply the nature of executing a dream. When these individual failures appear, or even if they become insurmountable, you’re made better for having put in the effort to actualize your dream.
Many people can’t say the same about themselves, and with this experience under your belt, you’re all the more prepared to redouble your efforts on your next project. Don’t write yourself off, just take your failure on the chin and start working towards what’s next.
2. It gives you priceless lessons.
It has been said that failure is the greatest teacher of all time. Failure is an opportunity. It’s a chance to reevaluate and come back stronger and wiser. It teaches us how to be brave and trust our instincts. Failure forces us to use creativity and motivates us to overcome the barriers we’ve met in ways success does not. Additionally, the more often you navigate failure, the stronger and more resistant you can become to the initial disappointments.
Moments of failure are not just a great chance to learn about yourself, but also provide an opportunity to better understand your team and the people you’re close to. You often discover who your true friends are, and who will stick with you no matter what. Unfortunately, you also sometimes learn who won’t be there when you need them, but this is all the more important to remember as you move ahead.
Ultimately, as you encounter failure throughout your life, you’ll come to see the power it holds as a teacher to make you a better critical thinker and problem solver at the moment that concern arises.
3. It redirects you through a fearless mindset.
Failure is often a course correction. Without failure, we would often move forward without seeing the bigger picture. It gives you the strength and fortitude to dig deeper within yourself, to find out what you are made of and are capable of accomplishing. Encouraging yourself to practice a healthy optimism can help you develop this essential fearless mindset. Always look for opportunities to acquire wisdom that you can take with you for future ventures.
Another great way to make sure you use your failure to redirect to the right path is learning to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. There’s a fine line between learning from your failure and letting a fear of failure prevent you from taking necessary leaps in the future. Remind yourself that failure is natural and by getting through and moving onto bigger and better things, you’re moving past your failure to become a better, stronger, more capable person.
Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that failure, at its core, is a scary thing. In a world where we are held personally responsible for the successes of our business, and our startups are seen as extensions of ourselves, it can be hard to accept failure, whether professionally or personally. However, reframing the way you see failure for yourself and others can drastically improve your business, leaving you stronger and prepared for any challenge that may come your way. It all comes down to how you accept your failures, and if I can impart upon you one piece of wisdom, it’s to accept them wholeheartedly, without fear, and as a building block for your future success.
Craig Kronenberger is currently the CEO and founder of Stripe Theory. He has over twenty years of experience as a consumer digital strategist with a concentration in global strategy, new product launches, brands and direct marketing, and consumer relationship marketing for Fortune 500 and growth organizations.