Wednesday, 10 August 2016

3 Things to Learn from Failure


There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask "What if I fall?"
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?
― Erin Hanson

The other day, I was really excited about a business idea I had and shared it with my friend. The first red flag I got was when her face took a turn from ‘smiley face’ to an ‘mmm…again?’ face. Without her asking, I knew what was on her mind, and this did not help my morale. At all.

You see, I had started a business before. And failed. It’s not something I am proud of, but it happened. And her unspoken questions got me thinking – Who am I to try again? Why try again? Why am I the best person to do this? What will I do differently?

But going through my laptop a few days after I met my friend, I found something that made me pause. It was a simple quote, an old Japanese Proverb: "Fall seven times and stand up eight.”.

Great things never get done by people who are afraid to try. And when I use the word ‘try’, I mean putting yourself out there 100%, not one foot on one side of the line, and the other foot across the line. It was a major learning point from the failure of my first business. I strayed too far off on the side of ‘safe’. I did no networking, because I was afraid of being turned down; I was too afraid to invest what little I had, because I was afraid to lose my money; I was afraid of everything!

What good did it do?
Sometimes, letting go may just be the push you need to achieve success. I have learned to counsel myself to quit making excuses. Excuses never get anything done. Excuses never put food on the table, and while you’re giving one excuse after another, someone else is executing the plan in your head.

Excuses only waste time. No more excuses!

Of course, now I am older, wiser and more experienced, I have also learnt a lot about strategy, time management, about taking things one step at a time. So, I know to be smarter about how I invest in my ideas and about measuring ROI, not just in terms of money as a resource, but most importantly, the value of my time.

So, to answer those earlier questions:
  • Who am I to try again? – I am older, wiser, and more
  • Why try again? – Because ideas are fragile. An idea can only
  • Why am I the best person to do this? – If not me, then who?
  • What will I do differently? – Spend less time strategising, and more time connecting with the kind of people who really need my product/service.
So if you’re like me, with a thousand and one ideas, and a thousand and two excuses not to execute, well, here is one for you: ordinary people do extraordinary things when they stop making excuses and start doing.

I hope this makes sense.

To me, it does.

Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu
About the Author Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu

Ifesinachi is a writer and innovation strategist. She is an advocate for continually innovating business processes and models, products and services, as the key to creating happy spaces where customers and brands live in mutual harmony. She is also a scriptwriter and the author of the novel, The Domestication of Munachi. Ifesinachi blogs at www.linkedin/in/ifesinachiokoliokpagu. Follow her on instagram at @Ifesinachi_ladyboss and twitter at @Ifesinachio_.

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