Failure is a loaded word.
It's largely viewed as something we want to avoid at all costs. We're conditioned from a young age, directly or indirectly, to the idea that success is 'good' and failure is 'bad'.
Truth be told, I'm not convinced. Failure may not always be welcome or comfortable, but in my experience, it's been a necessary stepping stone towards greener pastures. Like everyone else, I've tried and failed many times in my life, but in hindsight, I've inevitably come away from each experience a little stronger.
With a subtle switch in our mindset, I believe we can all transform our perceived failures and shortcomings into growth experiences. Today I'd love to share with you a few ideas to help do just that.
Failure Breeds Resilience
In the early stages of growing my organic meal delivery company, Fresh n' Lean, I came up against a challenge that's all too common amongst young, female entrepreneurs: getting my voice heard. As a 19 year old student with an ambitious goal, on many occasions I was ignored in meetings by people. It was frustrating to say the least, but it's something I now value.
I used the experience of failure and rejection as a catalyst to grow stronger and more determined to succeed. Not necessarily just to prove the naysayers wrong, but to pave the way towards meaningful work and inspire others to do the same.
Those countless experiences of negotiating and trying as hard as I could to get my voice heard reinforced the value of persistence. Of being gritty and not taking taking no for an answer if you have something you're truly passionate about. There will always be critics and those that expect you not to succeed, but they can be some of the most important teachers you'll ever come across.
Failure Shapes Your Priorities
Another under-appreciated benefit of failure is that it can help define and reinforce your value system - what's really important to you in life.
For example, Fresh n' Lean is all about providing healthy meals - ones that are organic, homemade and affordable. The mission is largely centered around cultivating well-being and was initially inspired by the unfortunate health struggles my father faced. I wanted to provide him with nutritious food that would support his healing journey. Today, the mission remains the same, but on a larger scale.
If the business was instead based around supplying junk food or something else that I don't value, sure, we could cut our overheads by sacrificing the quality of our ingredients, but that's not the point! It's just not aligned with my core values, so I wouldn't have that same drive to keep working hard. For me, success isn't just about how well we're doing financially. It's about doing meaningful work that's enjoyable and provides value to the world.
Failure Leads to Innovation + Growth
If you never fail, how can you learn to do things more effectively?
Fresh n' Lean has essentially been a ten year experiment in efficiency. Since day one, we've been testing and retesting countless food containers and labels trying to figure out which one works the best for shipping, extending shelf life, sustainability, and food presentation. We're currently on the 8th generation, and still trying to improve.
The truth is, failure is always going to be there to some degree. There are always going to be little tweaks we can make to evolve, whether that's in the product we create or the way we deliver it to our customers. But that's all part of the journey - it's not a negative thing, but a gateway to the next stage.
Just like a plant needs to be pruned before it can flourish, sometimes we need to take a step back, evaluate things and make adjustments before we can move forward and truly thrive.