Failure is never the intended outcome. But it happens.
For the longest time, I avoided reference to my shortcomings as an entrepreneur. I was blasé about the change of heart after 2.5 years of solid graft, claiming I wanted to pursue a myriad of other interesting opportunities that didn’t yet exist. Or sometimes I chose not to even acknowledge the experience of those euphoric, short-lived highs and the many, many lows. It was the acceptance avoidance mechanism I’d thought I’d perfected.
The reality was simple: I was a failure. I just didn’t have the tenacity or drive to continue pursuing what should have been a passion project. The hustle was exhausting and I wanted something different out of life. And while I loved art, the creativity, method and people behind it (and still do), I didn’t love it badly enough.
From a young age, society’s inner workings condition us with cultish conviction into believing we should always strive to succeed. Always do our very best to win. But little thought is ever devoted to how we ought to prepare impressionable minds for what happens when we fail. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a cheerleader designate by your side who’ll unwaveringly remind you that the bit about trying is what really matters the most. Yet the preconditioning we get during our formative years means that when things don’t go quite to plan and we fail, the aftermath can trigger a million insecurities to wipe-out any positive self-esteem.
It’s basically the hangover that never really subsides.
So at what point do you learn that failure is also part of the journey? And who do we learn this from? I’m very privileged to work with amazing entrepreneurs – both former and current – who’ve taught me to appreciate the experience of running a business in its entirety. They’ve reminded me that irrespective of whether you fail, there’s still something you can take away from the experience. There’s still an element of self-discovery involved. That it’s character building. And that it should always serve as a reminder as to just how resilient the human spirit can be.
Last year, I was very fortunate to be able to pursue a different sort of passion project. I created an initiative to amplify the voices of some amazing, intrepid startup founders who knew a thing or two about how you bounce-back from adversity. Their individual insights collectively captured as part of Startup Stories: Notes from Founders Vol I, contain anecdotes that are powerfully real, and enough to inspire even the most hardened entrepreneur (and failure) among us.