Reframing failure: top tips to help you bounce back

Failure is the mother of success. How can you value success in life without some failure along the way?

Reframing failure: top tips to help you bounce back

Failure is the mother of success. How can you value success in life without some failure along the way? I’ve had my fair share of failures both in life and in business. The uncertainties of the global pandemic meant, at my lowest point, having to use the deposit saved for my house to pay employee wages. On the flip side, I’ve had many successes which have led me to be in a position to build Stella Insurance, a purpose-driven, female-led business that is aligned with my own philosophy of levelling the playing field for women in male dominated industries. 

Having started my first business over twenty years ago, I’ve learnt to reframe failure as a stepping stone to success. Failure is a learning experience that you can use to fuel your drive and get closer to your goals. Here are some of my top tips for seeing failure as an opportunity to succeed.

Know when to move on 

So, the inevitable has happened and you’ve failed at something, maybe your new product launch didn’t hit the mark, or you’re struggling to find funding. It isn’t the end of the world, even though it might feel like it at the time. Bestselling author Robert Greene argues we have two types of time in our lives: dead time (when people are passive) and alive time (when people are maximising their time and potential). Every time we fail we have a choice between dead or alive time. However, failure attacks the ego which likes to blow things out of proportion and can lead you to complain and dwell, in other words, choose dead time rather than focusing on your potential. But think of all the successful people who have previously failed – James Dyson’s vacuum was rejected over 5000 times before he got it right and it became a global best seller!

Next time you fail, are you going to accept a lose-lose outcome (dead time), or a lose and then win (alive time)? Our brains tend to give weight to negative experiences more than positive ones but what good does that do? Process the failure, but don’t dwell for long. Look to lean on your support system, whether that is colleagues, friends, or family, and start to let go so that you can understand the lessons. 

Reflect and learn 

Reflection is an art because it takes practice. It takes genuine effort to reframe failure as a positive learning experience. Failure shines a light on the gaps in your skills, business strategies, and your team. Use failure to determine weaknesses so you can create a plan to avoid the same mistakes being repeated.

As a business leader, I try to be honest with myself and others about areas where I’m struggling or lacking. Businesses without emotional intimacy are dysfunctional. I worked with a corporate psychologist for two years before introducing my executive team and eventually having him replace myself as CEO at Freedom Service Group, another one of my businesses in the UK. I learnt that I don’t have the answer to everything. Problems are solved by motivated teams with a focused vision. Entrepreneurs are often self-motivated and self-sufficient, however, this doesn’t mean you know it all. Hire people who can offer perspective when you need it most. Build a company culture that is psychologically safe, where you and your team can admit when you’ve failed and work together to find solutions. 

Dust yourself off and try again

Failure is just one step along the way to success. Use it to motivate your next business decisions and always try that next idea. Keep your end goal in mind and bounce back from failure, pivot and use the tools you have gained for the next attempt. Be clear with your expectations and be comfortable taking the right risks and decisions. After all, failure simply presents a set of results that didn’t go well, so don’t be afraid to try, try, try again. 

Failure is a catalyst for success when handled properly and is one of the greatest lessons you can ever have as an entrepreneur. You need to be willing to have another go, you never know, that next idea might be your biggest success. Go on, I dare you to reframe failure as a stepping stone to achieving success. 

Sam White
Sam White

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