We had a saying in our company… I haven’t heard it in a long time. I think it’s because we are getting bigger and we are less comfortable admitting our failures. We used to say that we would like to, “Fail early and fail fast.
Early and Fast?
For an early stage start-up with no cash, this is a very good attitude. It helped us get out of the things that were burning too much time and money (two things that were in short supply). Maybe it’s the fact that I am getting older – some tell me I am getting wiser (I sure hope so – my 13 year-old daughter said that all of the gray hair in my beard was wisdom, which I replied that’s not true it was you and your brothers and sister driving me crazy – quick note – I love my kids) but I have been thinking a lot about failure.
What Is Failure?
As salespeople we are constantly faced with what the outside world would consider failures. We don’t always capitalize on opportunities, matter of a fact a good rep would miss more than they would land, and we seem to be in a constant state of rejection both outside the company and inside. Folks, failure is all around… but is it really? The best lessons I have learned came from failures. The more painful the outcome the better the lesson. I truly believe that I am a collection of my successes and failures, but (and this is the key) I have never let my failures bother me. They are lessons, they are outcomes that have happened to me, but they don’t define me and they should not define you.
Never become your failures. Once you start to identify with your failures and start believing that you are the failure, you have trouble. The business world will beat you up enough. You have the ability to take at least one person out of the beat down… and… that’s you. I had a mentor (over 20 years ago) that gave me great perspective on failure. He made me recite verbatim the list.
- Never see failure as failure but as…
- The opportunity to practice my techniques and prefect my performance
- The negative feedback to change the course of my direction (this is my favorite)
- The opportunity to improve my sense of humor
The last one strikes a particular cord. I have never laughed, especially with my wife, she find it so entertaining, so hard than I laugh at myself for the silly – boneheaded things that I do.
Remember this, people are not failures… things are. There are only outcomes and those outcomes are dependent on people to attach labels to them. Instead of applying the label as a failure, apply the label of teaching, feedback or entertainment.
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About The Author:
Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, SaaS sales, presentation skills, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.