Everyone hates failure. I hate losing. PERIOD! And I know my co-founder Iyed, he hates losing even more than I do(Easily the most stubbornly competitive guy I have ever met, but that is part of what makes him awesome).
But anyway, what is failure really?
I have a feeling my definition of failure and your’s are vastly different. For me, failure is so many different things. In the gym, it is working out til you physically cannot do more. In class, it is receiving anything less than a B grade. But these two separate examples of vastly different failures modes represent very different ideas. One is physical, the other is just my personal outlook.
But why am I rambling on about failure? As entrepreneurs we strive for success. To build awesome startups, grow exponentially and make lots of money. But success is not a destination, it is an attitude, a journey even that is completely arbitrary. For you success may be the next Google, Apple or Yahoo. For me I may feel successful simply building a $100k a year business or selling a product. It varies so greatly.
So how can we build upon this? Failure. That is how. We must learn from our failures if we wish to grow as individuals. I have found that generally speaking, success can be found in every failure if you know where to look. For instance, this past weekend I went to Berlin. The trip was absolutely amazing, beautiful architecture, crazy history, awesome people…it was sick. But at the same time, I suffered what could be viewed as a large failure. While walking around the city, touristing it hardcore, I saw a magic show on the side of the road. I was intrigued. I walked over to a group of onlookers collected around one man. This man bent over a small board and was moving a ball between boxes. I tried to keep up and thought I could.
Suddenly I pointed to a box and knew the ball was under it. He hands me 50 Euros. Everyone else around is excited, cheering me on. I am stunned, then he says show me your money. SHIT! I decided, what the heck? I clearly got it right, why not? Boy was I wrong. The ball wasn’t there. Someone else guessed and won the money. I WAS PISSED. I had just lost fifty euros. So I backed away. I continued watching however, and noticed him toss the ball stealthily under his foot. I realized he was cheating sometimes, but thought I could beat him. Heck, everyone else was winning too. So emboldened I tried again. Damn, he got me again.
I was obviously crushed. I left. A few minutes later, I suddenly realized a pattern, several other people kept winning. It was a scam, and they were all in on it. I wanted to go back and fight him, I had lost all of my cash.
Thankfully I decided not to go back and start something(it would have been 5 against one). I realized, after some cooling off period that there was actually a great deal off positive in this experience. I always try to learn from my mistakes. Generally the cost of failure is less than the value of the lesson learned. I learned:
1) Always evaluate a situation before putting money in
2) If it seems too good, it probably is
3) Keep your cool to avoid receiving a whoop ass
4) ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS stick with your gut
5) Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em
6) Never gamble
Personally, I have to believe the value of these lessons is worth more than 100 blood euros. If you can see through your mistakes and learn the lesson, you may save yourself considerably more heartache down the line.
Stay positive…or else!