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To Succeed, It helps To Fail

Without the confidence gained through being successful, failure can be very hard to embrace. I have failed many times. I have launched businesses that floundered; I have produced TV series that flopped. I have failed, in small things, several times just this past week. Should I feel ashamed, embarrassed even? After all, there is such a stigma attached to failure. 

Not according to Harvard, or some of the world’s best known entrepreneurs. Read my piece for Forbes about Turning Your Failure Into Success

From Snapchat Founder Evan Spiegel to Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington, many of the most spectacularly successful founders failed miserably before they got it right.  Even powerhouses of the entertainment business, such as Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, and Reese Witherspoon embrace the learning of their past rejections and their multiple failed business endeavors.

These extraordinary women and men offer us a fresh perspective: just because you fail many times, you don’t need to become defined by it as ‘a failure.’

Amy C. Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, believes we should recognize that failure is inevitable in today’s complex work environment. She is also adamant that its important to take away the stigma of failing. Edmondson cites the scientist Eli Lilly who holds“failure parties” to honor intelligent, high-quality experiments that fail to achieve the desired results.

For me, failure simply means that I set myself a commitment which I did not keep, an intention I did not live up to, or a goal I did not achieve.

So, the only way you can reliably avoid failure is to never declare your intentions and never commit to anything.

Arianna Huffington is the founder of the Huffington Post, one of the biggest news websites in the world, and the author of a dozen books. Today, she recalls her mother telling her as a teenager that ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’ And boy did Arianna fail, first as an author and later as a politician. I think my mother would really enjoy how many times I had let myself fail along the way.’

Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, Oprah Winfrey was the richest African American of the 20th century. She believes in fully embracing failure. “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise,” Oprah Winfrey shared with Harvard students in her commencement address. “At some point, you are bound to stumble. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher and higher, the law of averages predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do, I want you to remember this: There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

As with vulnerability, which most of us see as strength when it’s shown by others but mistake for weakness when it surfaces in ourselves, owning your failure makes you appear stronger.

Even if you haven’t yet succeeded, I recommend sharing with others what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from your past mistakes and rejections. Beeing seen to be OK with failure will make you a more relatable, stronger and more effective leader.

Check out my youtube channel

Read my piece for Forbes about Turning Your Failure Into Success

Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. Before training as coach, he launched a TV Production company which created  dozens of ground breaking, TV shows.

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