Learning From Your Failures Is the Key to Growth

Entrepreneurs and business owners who say they’ve never made a mistake are lying, or are at least refusing to own up to how they got to where they are today.

Failure happens to everyone. Jeff Bezos believes that we should even normalize failure. Recently, he wrote a letter to his shareholders saying: “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.” And he’s not the only one. Thomas J. Watson, who served as chairman and CEO of IBM, once said: “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.”

Great leaders know that growth is contingent upon failure; that innovation is only possible when we make mistakes and want to do better for ourselves, our company, and our industry. Mistakes really make the best teachers. You can read countless books, you can scour the internet for business advice from accomplished business owners, and you can even work closely with a mentor, but the only way to learn is to fail on your own.

Here are some of the most important lessons we can learn from failure:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” This is a quote from Robert Kennedy, one that I believe perfectly captures what it’s like to be a leader. Because we’re visionaries, we dream bigger than anyone else. We set momentous goals for ourselves and our companies, while also holding everything and everyone to those higher standards. But if you’re going to dream big, you must expect big failures along the way.

Just look at Sir James Dyson, whose vacuums have set the bar for his competition. Dyson now owns a multi-billion dollar company that is revered for its creativity and forward-thinking designs, but he made 5,126 failed prototypes before creating his first ball vacuum.

Expect to make mistakes, but never let that keep you from accomplishing the goals you set out to achieve.

Making mistakes is never an enjoyable experience in the moment, but looking back on your failures demonstrates just how far you’ve come, whether it’s been five years, ten years, or three decades.

One of my favorite quotes about this is from Winston Churchill, who once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Making mistakes is okay, but only when you use them as opportunities for growth. Failures will shine a spotlight on weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and as you work to strengthen these mishaps, especially as it pertains to your leadership, you ensure that these same mistakes won’t happen ever again.

Failure is an important part of your career path. While it will help you identify areas of growth and force you outside your comfort zone, you have to learn not to take it personally. Let it help guide you through change, but don’t let it de-value who you are as a business owner or, more importantly, who you are as a person.

Every leader wants to be successful, and failure is part of this growth. When the two work together, you will set out to accomplish far more than you could have ever imagined.

Originally published at JohnHKlein.com on November 2, 2020.

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John H Klein

John Klein, New Jersey Founder, currently serves as the Founder & CEO at Bi-Logix. Visit John’s professional site for more information! http://johnkleinnj.com/