I have a confession to make. I wasn’t the best student at school. In my 6th grade class all the other kids were student of the month before me, and a friend of mine actually got his second student of the month award the month after I got my certificate.
Unfortunately this isn’t one of those academically-blossom-in-college tales. Like that time a fellow college student who was new to coding was at the top of my intro to programming class, despite the fact that I had been creating websites for a few years. That was embarrassing.
Throughout all of my education I was top of the class exactly zero times.
While I wouldn’t say I’m good friends with failure, failure and I are old friends.
In a way I’m glad I had that 14 years of practice feeling educationally inadequate, because if my past ten years of entrepreneurship has taught me anything it’s that entrepreneurship is one long learning process, and that failure, and its friend risk, is an integral part of the entrepreneur process.
While I currently don’t run into failures’s arms, madly in love with the idea that I’m not going to get the results I wanted, I do now try to incorporate a fail-friendly point of view into my business.
Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t start any projects and I wouldn’t have a business.
Here’s two ways I try to be fail-friendly:
1. Don’t worry about wasting time.
This, of course, is an exaggeration. I do think it’s a good idea to be strategic about your time and effort.
However, a few years ago I wanted to think my way into success. But my reluctance to waste my time meant I was starting and accomplishing nothing, only thinking.
Ultimately one can never actually know what’s a waste of time without an accurate way to see the future. So it’s important for me to remember that there are certain steps I can take to minimize risk and failure, but I can never actually predicted with 100% certainty if something is going to be a success or a failure. In order to have successes, I need to be ok with the idea that the project may not work, and start that project anyway.
If you’re worried that a project is going to be a waste of time, there are a few things you can do that can help you make a decision whether to go ahead with the project or not.
My personal favorite right now is polling my audience. Last week I had an idea of doing a 2-week mastermind/class where I worked on growing my own Facebook page and helped other people do the same, so I polled my Facebook group and twice as many people said Yes than No. Less than a week later, I have 9 people who have signed up and are growing their page with me! (Join in).
In the past I’ve also pre-sold a course. I created part of the course, and then put up a sales page, priced it at a discount, and included a date that it would be available. A few people bought, so I created the rest of the course. If nobody buys, then you don’t have to do the rest of the course and can repurpose what you’ve already created into blog posts, etc.
If you’re wondering if your entire idea for a business is a waste of time you might like the book Will It Fly (affiliate link) by Pat Flynn, who is also an introvert.
So instead of not starting any project because it might be a waste of time, do a bit of research first. But ultimately you need to be putting something out into the world that people can buy, because if you don’t it makes it very hard to make money and have a business.
And just to get all philosophical for a moment – what you learned in yesterday’s failure could be the key to tomorrow’s success. In that way, nothing is ever a waste of time.
2. Take things professionally, not personally.
If a Facebook post doesn’t get any likes I ask myself why it failed, not “why doesn’t anyone like me?” Understanding a failure gives me a better understanding of how to do things the “right” way next time.
Ok, so this is a bit random, but have you seen the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes TV series?
When Sherlock tries to sift through clues he inevitably has clues that are dead ends.
Am I the only one who wants a mind palace?
Anyway, like Sherlock Holmes, we must go through some foolish guesses before we find the answers.
If your business idea/social media account/love life, whatever, is disappointing, the chances are really good that it’s not because there’s something wrong with you, it’s because your approach was incorrect or the timing wasn’t right.
Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and find out why things didn’t turn out the way you had hoped so you’re in a better position to succeed the next time.
So go out and try, my fellow introverts. And if you fail you’ll just have a better idea of what not to do next time.
Are your Sherlock Holmes deductions telling you that you would have a more popular brand if you got out of your own way and became more visible, like by doing Facebook Lives? I have a free 5-day adventure just for introverts who want to be comfortable with being visible so they can sell more products. Sign up here: http://beuninvisible.com/