Overcoming Failure & Criticism

I love reading about the lives of successful entrepreneurs. Not just the 20-something-year-old app developers of today, but the iron-melting, tower-developing tycoons of yesteryear as well. I’ve read about enough businesspeople that I’ve begun to notice a pattern. A common trait that seems so often to be a springboard to success. What is that mystery ingredient? Failure.

We so often celebrate the overnight success as if it is the ultimate display of entrepreneurial success. Instagram was purchased at one year old, at 4 times the price of The Washington Post, with fewer employees than soccer matches have players. Pop singers are made overnight after a lucky win on a talent show. It all seems to be so easy. So simple. So fast.

And so we trudge along, looking at our lack of instant fame and success, and wondering when our time will come. But guess what? The vast majority of highly successful people faced painful failure and criticism before “making it.”

walt-disneyWalt Disney was once fired from a job with The Kansas City Star for his “lack of creativity.”

Oprah Winfrey was said to be “unfit for television” at the beginning of her career.

Apple has had multiple failed products over the years.

Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. The secret to the “overnight success” is years of perseverance. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” he studied the lives of countless prodigies from our society and found a common thread: most of them had spent 10,000 hours perfecting their craft before making it big.

A wealthy CEO once told me, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Are you preparing for your opportunity? Diligence and ingenuity will get you there faster than wishing for different circumstances ever will.

So today, if you’re noticing your lack of fame and success and wondering when your star will come, you’re in good company. Don’t give up. Give the naysayers something to read about in 10 years. You have what it takes to change the world. It just may take longer than you’re expecting.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t always an easier journey. Watch Lonnie of Kid Barber talk about being robbed, then moving on and growing from the experience.