Failure. It’s a loaded word you hear often in the entrepreneurial world. After all, pretty much everyone will experience failure at one point or another—it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to launch a new business or get a date, failure is a part of life.
That can be a scary thing—especially if your business and money are on the line. But it shouldn’t be.
The thing is, nearly every successful person has failed at one point or another. From Steve Jobs to J.K. Rowling, many of the most successful people have achieved their current status in large part because of the failures they’ve experienced.
Of course, it isn’t enough to fail. The way you respond to failure will ultimately determine whether you put yourself on the path to success or not.
So how can you make sure that your failures end with a positive result? Here are three keys to help you make the most from your failures.
1. A learning experience
One of the most important benefits of failure is that it provides an opportunity to “adapt and change.” It’s easy to become complacent when you experience minor successes and keep doing the exact same things you’ve always done. But with complacency comes stagnation, which will ultimately keep you from being able to achieve greater heights.
Failure provides a massive learning opportunity because it not only forces you to adapt your methods, it also gives you the chance to examine what caused you to fail and why. In an entrepreneurial setting, your failure could be the result of poor managerial skills, a poorly defined target audience, or even a faulty product.
By carefully examining the reasons behind your failure, you can ensure that you won’t make the same mistakes in the future. Whether that requires developing new skills, getting new business partners, or simply watching out for certain managerial pitfalls, you’ll be in a much better position for future success when you learn from your mistakes.
2. Focus on what matters most
When speaking on the failures she experienced before becoming a best-selling author, J.K. Rowling noted that, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential,” an experience that forced her to “direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”
For J.K. Rowling, her failures in other areas of her life caused her to reassess her priorities and hone in on what mattered the most—on the one thing she most wanted to achieve. The result, of course, was one of the biggest literary phenomenons in history, which has since made her one of the world’s richest and most influential authors.
Any time you experience failure, it is essential that you take a step back and evaluate the many things that are calling for your time and attention. Are there certain activities or influences that are holding you back or wasting your time? You could very well discover that you haven’t been devoting nearly enough attention to the things that matter the most to you—and by redirecting your focus and stripping away distractions, you can find success.
3. Build character
Approaching failure in a positive manner is one of the best ways to build a strong, resilient personality—something that will serve you well in future business endeavors. It isn’t always easy to pick yourself up and move on after a major failure, but as you learn to accept the reasons you failed and press forward, you develop grit, humility, and other valuable personality traits that are key to building a track record of success in both the business world and life in general.
Failure can actually be an extremely liberating experience. For many people, it removes the pressure to achieve absolute perfection, which can ultimately reduce your levels of stress and make it easier to manage the day-to-day emotional hurdles associated with starting and running a new business. It’ll probably make you an easier person to work with, too.
Of course, if you’re not careful, experiencing a major setback can serve as a major blow to your confidence and self-esteem. Don’t let that happen! While failure will certainly test your mindset, developing a determined, positive outlook will help you move on and be better prepared for the future trials life will certainly throw your way.
Failure is an inevitable part of life—and in the entrepreneurial world, it’s quite likely that you’ll fail multiple times before you find lasting success. But that doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged or give up—after all, pretty much every other successful person has failed at one point or another. As you use your failures to learn and adapt, focus on what matters most, and build your character, you’ll be better equipped to move forward and write your own success story.