Let’s plunge into the depths of failure, an often misunderstood phenomenon that becomes the bittersweet cornerstone of success.
We’ve all heard the adages about failure being a stepping stone, a foundation to build upon, and I’ve personally attest to this as well.
But today, let’s not simply romanticize failure; instead, we will delve into the midst of the storm, into the grit of experiencing and navigating through failure.
Think about it this way: if success is a tower, failures are the bricks that make it. But what do we do when these bricks are smashing us unexpectedly in the face. Making us feel like it’s the end of the world?
I recently found myself reflecting on this while working out and listening to the All-In Podcast, a treasure trove of wisdom and insights shared by four seasoned businessmen. They have helmed multi-billion-dollar companies, run venture capital firms, and are busy building more ventures. Amid the wealth of knowledge in their discussions, there was one nugget that stood out to me at the last 10-15 mins of the 90 min podcast was about failure. (Life hack: listen to things at 2x speed)
There are stories of entrepreneurs who, due to insurmountable stress, ended up in the hospital as their companies crumbled. Others recounted a friend that was a founder who after a decade-long journey of building a business, only to lose not only all their funds but investors funds in a cram down round because of last minute desperate financing decisions. It’s a sobering reality that mistakes can happen, and when they do, they often come in bunches. These episodes of failures, much like a barrage of bricks, can feel like they’re smashing our aspirations and confidence.
Chamath, one of the hosts, had an insightful moment on this, addressing the psychological fallout from these failures. How do we separate professional failures from our self-worth? How can we face a downturn at work without feeling like a failure as a parent, spouse, or simply as a human?
This becomes particularly poignant in today’s business climate, with major shifts like macro quantitative tightening affecting a wide range of sectors. Even if you’re in tech, venture capital, real estate or any other industry apart from AI, it seems like there are significant stressed mounting. As things begin to falter, it’s natural to question ourselves, to wonder if we are a failure. The menacing specter of imposter syndrome is all too ready to strike in these moments.
So how do we combat this looming sense of failure? Not knowing what to do when the odds seem to be stacked against you, Here are a few strategies that I’ve found helpful:
FRIENDS: You’re not alone in this journey. Even the most successful individuals face their fair share of trials and tribulations. Resist the urge to isolate yourself. There’s comfort in camaraderie, knowing that others are also grappling with their own issues.
FAMILY: Many of us strive for success to provide a better life for our families. In times of hardship, lean on your family for support. Remember that while professional deals may go sideways, your family remains your most steadfast pillar. I had some sage advice passed onto me. This person was going through foreclosure or bankruptcy and his wife said they may take our house or our money but they are not going to take your family or kids. So remember even if deals are going sideways your family is still the most important thing to focus on.
HEALTH: Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress, and promotes sleep. While it might be tempting to reach for a drink, remember that a good night’s sleep is essential for problem-solving. Engage in physical activity to ensure you’re taking care of your body, which in turn will help you tackle those flying bricks.
In conclusion, there’s no denying that failure is a bitter pill to swallow. It hurts, and it often feels like there’s no way out. But, if you find yourself stuck, remember these three steps. While they may not make the journey less painful, they can provide a lifeline, a way to pick up the pieces, and start laying the bricks for your next success story.
As always, keep pushing forward.