Do you believe in the statement: failure leads to success? I do!
I noticed there were a number of comments on that video asking about the importance of failure as well as more information about my own failures in business.
So in this article, I’ll share some of my own failures across all my business ventures. I will also go a little more in-depth into why, I believe, embracing failure is an important component of success.
Failure Is Normal and Needed
I think it’s easy to see someone succeeding at face value and assume that failure is not a key part of their experience. And then assume that if we’ve experienced failure that it means we’re not cut out for that kind of success.
And that’s simply not true.
If you take away anything from this article, I want to communicate that failure is a critical, expected part of any type of success in life.
Failure Started In Childhood
Let’s begin by breaking down more of my failures. I feel like it’s important to go pretty far back in history, because I kind of built an identity around failing from an early age.
When I started school as a kid, I was always behind. As a Highly Sensitive Person, I found the idea of showing up in a classroom of humans completely overwhelming.
It didn’t help that I didn’t attend preschool or experience any other childcare environment before then. So Kindergarten, academically, was a complete wash for me. By first grade, I was academically behind. I then started to carry this narrative with me: that I would never “get it”.
I managed to scrape by and pass classes for a while. But, by the time I got to college, I got C’s in my first quarter. For a while I thought maybe I just wasn’t ever going to be someone who could succeed academically. I just didn’t “get it”.
By the time I was a sophomore in college, I finally realized that the way that I learn is completely different from the way my university classes were structured. I figured out my own techniques. After that, I found it relatively straightforward to get straight A’s.
This was a critical life moment for me. It was the first time that I realized that in order to personally succeed I needed to do things differently than the way others were instructing me to do.
I persisted through setbacks. This, along with time and grit, allowed me to problem-solve and find a new way to succeed. This is a theme in my life.
Instead of believing that I was a failure as a person, I was able to gain a new insight. There was a reason why I was failing. This gave me the chance to learn something about myself and make the necessary changes that helped me find success.
The story I just shared from my time in undergrad is by no means the end of my experience of failures.
I can’t even keep track of how many business ventures I’ve had that have epically tanked.
Back in 2016/2017 I had the idea of wanting to offer training to help folks integrate their multifaceted identities. The business concept was rooted in something authentic. But, I went about it all wrong.
At that time I was utilizing more traditional business strategies. I overinflated my sense of confidence, painted myself as more of an expert than I was, pitched myself to brands before I had a following, and so much more.
This business idea, that was rooted in a core value of mine, was getting hijacked by the slimy business practices I was implementing and I just lost steam.
Failure Has Followed Me In My Career
I want to be clear that it’s not just business ideas that tanked for me. It’s also my career in general.
After finishing grad school, I couldn’t find a postdoc internship for a long time. I applied to everything. Everything! I could not find a job.
Eventually, I found one in private practice, but I was on my own to fill my practice. It took me forever! Close to two years. I had no strategy going into it, and was completely disheartened, wondering if I wasn’t cut out for private practice or therapy in general.
In the meantime, I needed to supplement my income. I applied to every psych job and rarely heard back. The ones I interviewed at didn’t hire me.
I applied literally everywhere. I remember interviewing at Bath and Body Works. After the interview, I never got a call back, and was totally ghosted when I called back to inquire. I had a doctorate degree and I couldn’t even get a job at the local mall!
And in more recent years, I began to pursue teaching. I did finally land an adjunct position teaching MFT students for one class.
As much as I loved that teaching role, I got some feedback that was less than positive and was ghosted there too when I inquired about teaching again. I desperately tried to find a position somewhere else because I loved it so much. But folks didn’t respond.
Failure Lead To Private Practice Skills
But my drive to teach, and the lack of an outlet to do so, is exactly why Private Practice Skills was born. I see Private Practice Skills as emerging directly out of failure.
Letting these failures be learning opportunities, pivoting, and finding new ways to problem-solve is a very critical component of my private practice success.
Everyone Fails Before Succeeding
I think there is a universal component to this. I believe that everyone who has had success has had to embrace failure along the way.
If you do a google search looking for folks who’ve had failures before succeeding you can find some very big name celebrities. Walt Disney. Oprah Winfrey. Vera Wang. They have whole resumes of failures before they found success.
My hope and point in writing this article is that: If you don’t believe that failure is a critical part of success, you may give up when you experience failure.
You may miss an opportunity to identify where your individual greatness thrives. You may miss that chance to pivot to something new and amazing.
As you hit those failures and you pivot and problem-solve, there’s often an opportunity for some creative venture that you probably wouldn’t have been able to find if it wasn’t for those failures.
Whatever your goals might be in life, big or small, career or personal; embracing failure will lead you towards success.
More Of What I’ve Learned
If you’re interested in hearing more about what I’ve learned through failures, I have an article about why I have learned to ignore traditional business advice.
You may also find it helpful to watch an interview I did with another therapist, where we discuss how failure can help grow your counseling practice.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.