We all experience setbacks in our relationships, businesses, academics and various aspects of life.

There was a time failure was popularly seen as shameful, but thankfully, these days it is more often considered as a learning mechanism, especially in the business world, due to testimonies from successful people like Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Branson, Denzel Washington and many more.

I can attest to the philosophy especially as someone who has experienced failure time and time again in school, relationships and business throughout my life.

I’ve always wanted to make some kind of impact which has led me to choose difficult paths and roads rarely taken.

My progress has been mostly intangible, in the sense that it is hard to be recognized by onlookers, except the keen-minded. We exist in a society that measures progress materially, and with tangible metrics, when these criteria aren’t clear, proper and unbiased evaluation is difficult.

Fortunately ‘failure’ has been a good teacher, and I feel privileged to have gone through what I have, as I believe it has prepared me for the kind of life I’ve always aimed at.

I’ll share a few of what I’ve learned thus far;

  1. There is no shortcut
    As important as mentorship is, we often make the mistake of thinking we can avoid putting in time or work because we know the right people. I found out the hard way that regardless of who you have in your corner, you still have to dedicate time and energy to build anything lasting.
  2. Don’t wait for permission to do you
    Lots of times we wait for some external source to tell us what we are capable of doing, or what we should do. The source could be a certificate; it could be a parent or even a boss. We shouldn’t forget that they are as human as we are and also are prone to mistakes regardless of their experience. Times are different and advice should be scrutinized. You don’t need validation to do what you believe you can, strategically give it a shot, and see where it takes you.
  1. Hardly anything that seems to matter really matters
    Lots of times we fret over stuff that doesn’t matter. In business, it could be a logo, a brand color, a tag line or items you need for a project. I remember a basketball tournament I was part of, we worried over so many details that ended up being a waste of our energy and resources.
    Also while running my first business; an online gadget store, there were many instances where I worried about stuff that wasn’t as important as they seemed at the time.
    Understanding what’s truly important is a very valuable skill if you want to keep stress levels as low as possible, and allocate resources as effectively as possible.
  2. It could always be worse
    When we’re in a rut; we usually make the mistake of thinking things can’t get any worse. However, when facing a crisis, you need to be as calm as possible and figure a way to manage it properly. Do not over exaggerate it, and most especially don’t forget to be grateful for what isn’t wrong.
    We tend to assume our situations are so messed up to the point where we mismanage them and end up in situations that make our prior issues seem like heaven.
  3. Don’t make decisions out of desperation
    As you keep in mind that it could always be worse, always make sure you are as calm as possible before you make decisions. Be self-aware, know what you truly need to do or acquire to get closer to your goal.
    Try not to be so afraid of failure that you’d do anything to avoid it, sometimes that desperation not to fail could lead you to enter messed up agreements that would take years to get out of.
  4. Learning is invaluable
    Regardless of how badly you get hit, if you learned something, be grateful. It is true what they say; “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
    We pay good money to learn in school and also spend years in these academic environments, but when we enter the real world we expect learning to stop and life to be easy.
    Unfortunately, this phase is where real learning takes place, and yes it will take time and money, and no, it doesn’t come with a certificate, but the results will show if you persevere by applying what you learn as effectively as possible.
  5. Self-evaluate or quit
    This part is really important; most other points rely on it. If you cannot make a reasonable assessment of yourself, you would not be a good learner; neither will you be able to grow. Be SELF AWARE.
    Being honest with yourself is necessary to learn from mistakes.
    Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, what you need to work on and what you need to let go of is key to improvement.
  6. Enjoy the process
    Time is passing and life is happening while you try. It doesn’t start after you’ve supposedly reached your goals. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans”, don’t wait, find joy in the process.
    Don’t wait till everyone can identify the fun in what you are doing, find it for yourself and own it. Embrace the journey and be grateful for every drop of sweat.
  7. Even if you can do it alone, find teammates.
    It’s mostly fun with others. When you are more than one, the stress is less, and the process is usually more enjoyable. The quality of your efforts is usually better too, that is if you have the right blend of teammates. There’s this very accurate saying; “teamwork divides the tasks and multiplies the success”.
    Don’t be greedy, share, delegate and cooperate, there’s more to life than going solo.
    We were built to co-exist.
  8. Work with a sense of urgency, but chill
    Yes, it is important to work with a sense of urgency, to have integrity and follow principles. But don’t forget that people are what ultimately matters. Don’t try so hard to keep your principles when it’s hurting who it was made for.
    Take it easy, but always do your very best. BE WISE.
  9. Be unstoppable
    I found out that regardless of how much an outcome scared me if it eventually happened, I didn’t stay down long, neither did it make me pessimistic. I found out that I am a prisoner of hope. I always remain hopeful and remind myself of the ultimate goal.
    Being flexible with details and stubborn with the goal is a perfect way to put it. There is always hope, and with hope, there’s always energy.
    Your current business might not be the one that’ll get you to your ultimate vision, but it would definitely lead you there if you persist.

Growing entails breaking down and building up, so don’t be afraid to try even if you fail.

As long as you can learn and adapt in a timely fashion, you’ll be alright.

Life is not as hard as we think it is, but it is much more complicated than we imagine.

Let’s also not make it harder than it should be for ourselves or others. Give yourself a break.

Check out the stories admirable people history has blessed us with and you’ll notice there’s no story without the struggle. Embrace it, and make sure you don’t waste your pain, allow it to teach you and build you up.