Success is possible without failure

Failing Successfully: Why Failure is the Prerequisite for Success

Are you afraid of setbacks or of failing your business? Why it doesn't work without failure and how you can still stay strong when your plans don't work.


I hope for you that you will not regret your decision.

Those were the words my boss said when I quit my secure permanent position in order to finally become self-employed full-time. My heart was pounding and I felt really sick with excitement.

I answered: "Me too. But I will regret it more for not having tried it in the first place.

But you are brave - I would never dare to do that“Said a few people around me when I resigned. With such statements, one tries to appear confident and steadfast.

But what really goes on in you, only the founders, at least, admit:

You're just scared as hell!

You can hardly sleep at night. You doubt yourself and your abilities. And some days you wonder what the hell made you leave your safe zone. Are you totally crazy?

Sometimes you are even jealous of your acquaintances, who are in their "safe" permanent position, have real vacation, are allowed to be ill and who do not have to worry about paying their health insurance contributions. Or what you still have to / should / may learn in order to run a successful company.

I have never felt particularly brave. I'm actually more of a person who thinks everything through in advance and imagines the worst horror scenarios so that there are no nasty surprises waiting for him.

I didn't quit spontaneously either, instead I drove two years for two years and built up my company on the side.

But maybe it was the same for you: At some point there will come a point where you just HAVE to develop yourself further.

There is no other way.

I couldn't have lasted two weeks longer in a permanent position. The days dragged on like chewing gum. I felt as if I had done everything a thousand times, had the same conversation hundreds of times. As in the film "And the groundhog greets you every day."

It wasn't brave for me to resign. It was a NECESSITY.

Everyone has to grow and develop. Growth doesn't just stop once you've found secure permanent employment.

Or have you ever heard of a tree just stop growing? Standing still is just unnatural. But the other side of growth is uncertainty and fear.

Growth REQUIRES uncertainty.

If you're never afraid, you've probably been in an environment for far too long that doesn't leave any potential for growth.

No hero without obstacles. No failure without success

Think of films like Lord of the Rings, Finding Nemo or Star Wars.

In every story it is the case that the main character is forced by various circumstances to leave his familiar surroundings and to face challenges. Most of the time, it is precisely the challenges that they fear the most or that reveal their greatest weaknesses.

So he goes through various crises of increasing size, which then ultimately make him a better version of himself. Only through the crisis does the main actor become a hero.

There is no hero without obstacles. And there is no success without failure.

Why do we think we are different? We expect a steep, straight curve to success with a clear start and end point.

But that's just not how it works.

The path to success is more like a swell with ups and downs that roll in again and again in phases.

Many people prefer to stay in their safe zone rather than “in danger” of failure. And then wonder why they are unhappy.

Lindsey Stirling, now a very famous violinist, was rejected for years by record labels and talent scouts because no one believed in the success of a dancing violinist. "I fell hundreds of times. And every time I got a little stronger.

But it is one thing to hear stories of failure from people who ultimately made it. It is completely different to be the one who fails or is in the middle of a bad phase. Because then you just lack the certainty that "everything will go well".

Failing successfully: The Fuckup Night

Last week I attended the “Fuckup Night” at the University of Bonn. At this series of events, people honestly report how they put something really beautiful in the sand.

One entrepreneur told how she developed around 50 ideas in recent years - and about 5 of them have been able to hold onto so far. When her first company showed success, she immediately rented a large office with a fixed contract for 10 years in Cologne. Including 20 employees. Due to new legislation, her business quickly died and she struggled hard not to go bankrupt. Out of necessity, she developed a new business idea that is still successful today.

Another reported that he worked for almost 2 years developing a business idea, which then turned out to be too complex for investors. During this time he made no money and worked so hard that his health (and his wife) ultimately forced him to give up the project.

Others told of multiple failures that forced them to give up everything and start all over again. Or from business partners who at some point had different ideas and gave up the company.

When an entrepreneur was asked why he kept going despite all the failures, he replied:

I do not run a company, I AM an entrepreneur. Once you've felt the freedom of building your own business, giving up is no longer an option. You keep going until you find a way.

I was impressed by this attitude. And I also admire the openness to report freely about my own failure. In Germany in particular, it still seems to be a taboo to admit that you have tried something and thus failed.

What surprised me: I couldn't find any remorse, regret or shame in any of the speakers.

Despite all the failures, everyone seemed happy and satisfied that they had at least tried it and had grown with it.

However, when the visitors to the Fuckup Night, mostly students, were asked who wanted to start a company, only two people raised their hands.

The number of founders in Germany has been declining for years. I think this development is a shame! Because that means more people who do not live out their potential in favor of the supposed security of a permanent position.

Don't be afraid to fail. Afraid of never trying.

In my own environment I see so many great people with great abilities, but who don't even start out of fear of failure.

You may want a different life, but you are not ready to take the risk of falling on your face.

They prefer to keep dreaming and be "satisfied" with their current situation. When asked how they are doing, some answer "It has to be. "Or"So-so.“

Now this attitude makes me angry. Really pissed off.

Because I just can't understand why some don't even TRY to make their dreams come true. Instead, they resort to excuses or blame external circumstances (weather, economy, politics, time). And then they only talk about banalities, illnesses, the weather or the latest gossip.

I have a very simple procedure when I'm afraid: I imagine what is the worst possible thing that can happen. If I can live with that, then I will. I also think about what my options are if this worst comes to the worst.

In the case of my self-employment, I thought to myself: what's bad going to happen? If the money isn't enough, I'll go to Aldi to cash in or wait a minute! I still have a plan B and a plan C on my mind. If that one doesn't work in the long run, then I just try around until it works.

But what I could never live with would be the uncertainty: "What would have happened if ...?". Then I would have the feeling that I wasted my potential and wasted my life.

Jim Carrey once said in a grandiose speech:

“You always have only two options: love or fear.
Choose love - and never let fear win against your playful heart. "

My advice to you: it's okay to be scared. It's okay to doubt and fall. Sometimes it is also necessary to give up first and then start over.

It doesn't all have to be perfect. And there is a good chance that a lot of mistakes will happen in the beginning. Because that's just part of it. It's natural and just shows that you're growing and changing. And that's a really good thing!

You don't have to cancel immediately.

Put your toe in the water first before jumping in with a big ass bomb.

Test yourself out.

First offer your service to a few people and see what results. Maybe the first few times I work for free and get honest feedback. Go ahead and refine over time.

BUT GO!

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that failure made a successful business possible. Do not believe those who claim that you will be successful very quickly and easily.

This is just a lie and is aimed at people who want quick success but are not willing to take a risk.

I know that you are different

Every mistake will teach you so many valuable lessons! Each gives you the opportunity to improve your performance and develop your personality further. And it's worth it, isn't it?

Find an environment of people who support you and believe in you. Because sometimes you will have to rely on them - especially if you don't believe in yourself. Find people who are honest and who are genuinely interested in your progress and well-being. If you want, I'll be happy to be one of them.

Don't be afraid to fail. Afraid of never trying.

I haven't failed. I've only found 10,000 ways that don't work.“

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Thomas Edison, after the invention of the light bulb

Happy failure!

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