Why It’s Okay to Get Things Wrong

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Have you ever heard what Thomas Edison said after years of work trying to get lightbulb prototype after lightbulb prototype to work?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Isn’t that a great way to think about failure? By considering each wrong step as a kind of progress, Edison was able to keep moving forward with his efforts. And, of course, it all paid off: he did eventually patent the first commercial lightbulb in 1879.

I think we could all learn a lot from this mindset. When we get something wrong, we often immediately categorise it as a failure. Unfortunately, doing this has two results:

  1. It makes us feel bad
  2. It can stop us from trying new things in the future

When you get something wrong, it can be very tempting to just give up on it. This is especially true in business when we often have to put ourselves far out of our comfort zone in order to grow. Perhaps you’ve tried a new marketing campaign and got very little response, or maybe you launched a new service with great fanfare only to find that no one wants to book it.

Experiences like these can be really demoralising. I know because, like all business owners, I’ve had similar experiences myself. But before you give up, consider this: what if Thomas Edison had given up just one lightbulb prototype earlier? He would never have found the one that worked and would therefore never have been able to enjoy the results of all his hard work leading up to that point.

The best way to deal with failure is to change your mindset. This is where tools such as NLP techniques can be really helpful for business owners! If you could reframe your thinking to consider each so-called failure as a learning experience, how would that change the way you worked?

  • You’d feel more able to freely experiment
  • You may find that creative thinking would come more naturally to you
  • You’d be able to embrace a more playful innovation style
  • You’d be less afraid to get things wrong
  • Your big picture vision would be far less impaired by worries and doubts
  • Experimentation would be much more fun

Simply changing your attitude to failure could have a huge impact on how you feel about trying new things and putting yourself out there. It could help you to embrace the idea of beneficial experimentation and give you the confidence to try new things with your business that you’ve been wary of in the past.

After all, every time we try something new and it doesn’t have the result we’d hoped: we’ve learnt something. Each one of those lessons is incredibly valuable as we can put what we’ve learnt into practice next time we try. For example, that new marketing campaign that didn’t get results? Next time you can try something different because you know that particular technique didn’t help you reach the right people. And that new service that didn’t get enough bookings? Consider it an opportunity to learn about what doesn’t resonate with your customer base in order to move closer to something that does.

How do you approach failure as a business owner? I’d love to hear about the ways you’ve turned a negative experience into a learning opportunity. Why not share your stories on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?

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