Every person—and every entrepreneur—has experienced defeat, and plenty of us are familiar with the adages about failure being a pathway to success. Such sayings are often crafted with the benefit of hindsight. Thomas Edison, for example, had long since developed the light bulb when he could assert, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Recovering from failure can be the hardest part of an entrepreneur’s journey. Even so, Franziska Iseli, founder of Basic Bananas, The Business Hood and Oceanlovers, says this: “Failure is one of the greatest teachers.”
We recently asked Franziska about moving forward after failure. Here’s what she had to say.
Looking back on a recent failure, what is one lesson you would pass on to another entrepreneur?
I found that allowing myself to feel whatever feeling comes up after a failure—be it frustration, anger or disappointment—is the fastest way to move past it rather than being in denial. However, once I’ve acknowledged the feeling, I’m quick to move on, learn the lessons and take the next steps. I don’t allow myself to “wallow” in my mistakes.
Here are the steps I usually follow and questions I ask myself to keep failing forward:
- Acknowledgement: Why did I fail?
- Lessons: What can I learn from this experience?
- Action: What are my next steps to move forward rather than looking backward?
Dwelling on past failures comes very naturally for most people—but we can make a conscious decision to shift our thinking. As an alternative, I look for future opportunities and decide on my next steps to recover quickly.
What practice or daily ritual can you rely on to motivate you after a failure?
Two daily rituals have helped me to stimulate my desire to continue work after a failure: meditation and gratitude.
A quick daily meditation, sometimes even just for five minutes, has helped me to stay centered, grounded and focused after a failure.
Secondly, a daily practice of gratitude focused on all the things that are working, rather than on the ones that aren’t, has also supported me in bouncing back from failure very quickly. Countless studies have proven the power of gratitude being at the heart of running a successful company (and life).
My personal gratitude practice is high-speed and low-maintenance; as I lie in bed at night after reading and before falling asleep, I think of everything I’m grateful for. Some people prefer a written practice. I say pick whatever works best for you.
How has your perspective on failure changed over the years?
We all experience various degrees of failures throughout life and even more so when we run businesses.
Children and especially babies are so much quicker at failing forward than adults. There is a lot we can learn from their behavior. For instance, they don’t give up walking when they fall over for the twentieth time. As we grow older, our failures often become bigger, and if you allow them, they take over a big space in our heads, sometimes taking us away from what really matters.
So I’ve come to learn to not take myself too seriously as I navigate through a failure, to tell my bruised ego that it’s okay, and to stay humble and curious.
What is the one positive thing you wish you knew or someone told you that would’ve eased your anxiety about failing?
Behind every failure, there lies a goldmine and an opportunity to course-correct, enabling us to reach even higher highs.
Franziska Iseli is an entrepreneur, brand & marketing strategist, speaker and author. She joined the EO Sydney chapter in 2015 and currently serves as Learning Co-Chair.
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