Be thankful for the opportunity.
In the Last Lecture, Randy Pausch proudly declares that “the walls are there to show you how much you want it.” Instead of being discouraged by a failure, think of it as an opportunity to prove how good you and your company are. Sustainable competitive advantage only comes from doing what other companies are unwilling to do. The easy way is for “other people.”
No great thing has ever been developed from consistent success. So failure means you’re getting closer to something breakthrough Edison famously took 10,000 experiments before inventing the light bulb. Apple has a tremendously tumultuous history. When Wal-Mart had the grand opening of their first store in 1962, they had pony rides out front. As customers walked in, they tracked in the “residuals” of those rides all over the entire store floor. Coca-Cola had New Coke. Toyota has had massive recalls. 3M made an adhesive that wouldn’t stick well, for which I am personally forever grateful. It is only from our failures that we learn how to make exponential leaps in our work.
When asked whether he thought it was easier for young comedians in today’s YouTube-social-media driven world, Jerry Seinfeld said that it’s actually so much harder for them to become great comedians because it’s so easy for them to get out there now. You need the opportunity to bomb (a lot) with little recognition so that you learn what works and what doesn’t. There is no real other way to learn comedy than constant trial and error, so too in business.
As Oliver Wendell Homes said, “If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say: meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it, and had better be on speaking terms with it.”