Most of us understand that failure, in some fashion of our lives, is inevitable. However, learning to accept failure as part of the recovery process seems to escape many people. A quick Google search will give you articles and expert analysis ad infinitum on “failing fast”, “failing often”, or any number of related topics. Yet, similar to a breakup with a significant other, it isn’t wise to move right to the next situation without accepting and understanding what happened the first time around.
My approach to accepting failure is, to use a boxing phrase, to take a “Mandatory 8-Count”. When a fighter is knocked down and the referee begins the count to 10, the 8-count rule says that no matter when the fighter gets up the referee will continue to count to a minimum of 8 to give the fighter a chance to recover.
When learning to accept failure, there’s 3 main components:
“Clear the Cobwebs” – When a fighter has been knocked down, they’re dazed, they’re head is foggy, and in some cases aren’t even aware that they’re on the canvas. Whether it’s losing a major client, an investor backing out, or a project getting shut down, these setbacks can deflate even the most accomplished entrepreneurs. The first step is to not panic. Failures happen, and setbacks happen. Keep your wits about you and do not make any sudden decisions while you’re caught up in the shock of the moment. Remember, it’s better to respond than react.
Take the 8-Count – Check out this video of former boxing champion Zab Judah. Judah was knocked down in the 2nd round and proceeded to jump up immediately. Watch what happens next…
Take some time to assess the damage and gather your thoughts. Whether it’s days or even weeks depending on the severity, we often need this time to clear our mind and shake off the effects and disappointment of this setback. Case in point, just before Christmas last year I had a rough week in which I lost an RFP bid and 2 potential clients in a matter of about 3 days. While I had planned on working through the holiday season, I made the decision to disconnect for 2 weeks to rest and recoup. I came back after the holiday with much more focus and determination.
Finish the Round – Now that you’ve recouped, it’s time to get back in the fight. Take this time to push forward and get back to business, but ease back into it. Think about the decisions you made that led to the knockdown and adjust your strategy. Again, you want to respond, not react.