“Making mistakes and becoming smarter is the job of an entrepreneur; not making mistakes is the job of an employee.” –Robert Kiyosaki
These motivational quotes have become ubiquitous in the business world and I’m glad that it’s okay for me to make mistakes. I don’t think it’s okay to fail, though.
Before I go any further, let me be the first to admit: I have screwed up a lot along the way. I did my company’s taxes for the first couple years, which caused me to pay the IRS more than I care to remember. I chose to give my company the same name as a billion other graphic design firms, which makes Googling super fun and pointless. I chose to work without a backup system for the first year of the business, only to discover one morning that my hard drive had bought the farm. However, after all those mistakes and many more I’m ashamed to share right now, I heartily disagree that they should be considered failures. The way I see it, the only time you truly fail is when you don’t try. Every other case is just an unfavorable or unplanned learning experience.
Last winter, I got a phone call from the CEO of a company that I have had a great relationship with for the past couple years. She was in the process of starting a side project and wanted me to develop her web site. I jumped at the chance and got started right away with what was to be a masterpiece. That awesomely beautiful web site was built and launched and I was over the moon about the work my team did. This morning, I met with a lawyer since the invoice for that beautiful web site is now five months late. Although I did skip the proposal/deposit process I once had reserved for first-time clients, I can’t say that I failed in any way. I learned a lot from the experience and can now rest assured that I know how to deal with that situation in the future.
So we now know the difference between a “mistake” and “failure”. I’m sure that, at this point, you want your five minutes back. But I’m getting to the point, which is this: appreciate your mistakes and realize that no mistake is a failure as long as you can learn from it. The next time you make a mistake, embrace it. Figure out how it happened without chalking it up to luck. It’s the same thing you would do with success, right?