On the topic of failure

Nowadays it seems to be “à la mode” to openly state that’s it OK to fail. But let’s be very careful about what message we try to convey with this. Bottom line is, that’s a steaming pile of horse-crap. And I am allowed to state this, because I have shuttered a company once. And let me tell you: It sucked. Bigtime. You can find my story on Failcon 2012.

I believe that every entrepreneur that has failed has the moral duty not to glorify failure, but to give an honest report. Including that there is life after a failure.

Experienced one, I truly believe that failure is a natural byproduct of any innovation-driven economy, so we can’t live without. I sincerely believe that in business, individually, and in relationships, failure is just a data point that adds value at a later time. Failure provides experience and wisdom to add to your repertoire. Yes, consider it even as an investment in your future.

But do let’s try to stimulate wins over fails, shall we? When discussing the topic of failure, we talk about the mental state that reduces one’s fear to fail, and gain in experience and courage to do more. Not about slacking…

The mental state of failing

Here are some things I picked up from other experiences I had, related to the mental state of dealing with failure.

Between 1999 and 2006 I did a lot of solo climbing. Although I accepted the fact that each solo-climb could be my very last one I still ventured out. My passion far exceeded my fear. And that’s exactly the same I expect from a founder. I expect a founder to run his start-up because of the passion he has for what’s he’s doing, while a constant reminder of imminent failure rings in the back of his mind to keep him on edge.

The thing when you are out solo-climbing, or running a start-up, is you are living in a heightened state of awareness. You have razor-sharp focus on your movements, your surrounding, your emotions, and you have a very clear perception of risks. Use that fear as a catalyst to become a better founder. You don’t become reckless, you become fearless. Huge difference.


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