One of the first businesses I started failed within the first 12 months. My friend and I had this wonderful idea about a clothing range for a specific market. We were completely passionate about the concept and the customers we would be serving. We never for one moment thought we would not succeed (perhaps we were naïve). We did everything right that we could do – or so we thought.

A few months into the business, however I realised that I was going to have to make the difficult decision to shut it all down.

And still we limped along for a few more months.

Failing at just about anything can be very painful. Not only does it make us question our abilities but it also goes beyond that and challenges us to the very core of who we believe that we are. Every time we fail at something we have some choices to make. We can choose to let the failure crush us and bring us to the point where we never want to try again or we can choose to learn what we can and move on.

Since that business wound up, I have failed at many other things. But I have also succeeded at a great deal more.

One of the very first things human beings learn is the ability to walk. When was the last time you saw a toddler who was learning to walk, sit down in the dirt after he or she had fallen for perhaps the hundredth time and say to the parent who was encouraging them to try again – “ no, I’m never going to learn how to walk so perhaps I’ll just sit here for the rest of my life’? No of course they don’t do that. They pick themselves up and try again. And each time that they choose to try again, they become a bit more determined to walk.   Unless they have a health issue, most toddlers eventually grasp the skill of walking.

Failure is never final.

Not until you decide to pack it in and not give it another go. Some of the lessons I learned from my failed business are still keeping me in good stead years after the event. If you allow it, failure can teach you more than success ever could.

Have you failed at something recently? Do you find yourself having to admit that something you believed in has failed? The following steps will help you get moving again.

  • First of all acknowledge that you have failed. Remind yourself that it is not the end of the road.
  • Take some time to reflect on what happened, making sure to separate the person – you – from whatever happened. This will ensure your conclusions are not tainted by unnecessary emotion. Yes it is painful, but use that pain to forge forward rather than allowing it to stop you.
  • Ask yourself what you could have done differently. This is where the learning occurs. It is helpful sometimes to do this with someone else like a close friend, colleague, partner or Coach
  • Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge what you did right, however insignificant it may seem.
  • ‘Get back on your horse’. After a failure, particularly a major one, it is easy to be so afraid it will happen again that you are reluctant to try anything new. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you paralysed. The chances of success are more likely if you refuse to give up.
  • Then find someone else who has gone through failure and encourage him or her by sharing what you have learned with them.


Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us somethingMorihei Ueshiba