“I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work,” said Thomas Edison after inventing the light bulb. Some people tend to think that success is easy. That if they do their best, or think about winning, fame and fortune will fall into their laps as easy as rain. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Finding that sweet spot of success comes only after tripping over yourself a few times. Like Edison, we must first find the ways that don’t work before we get the one that does. 

The only real difference between success and failure is giving up. Some people give up before they even start. Whether it’s lack of drive or fear that motivates stagnation, there are plenty of hard workers that prefer to stay in the safe zone. If you never start college, then you can never fail. If you never attempt becoming a business owner, then your ego won’t be butt hurt when the first run doesn’t work out like you expected. It’s not that successful people don’t feel this sting. Our ambition just doesn’t crawl into a hole and die. 

If one way doesn’t work out, it’s not a hopeless cause. Reevaluate what went wrong and try again.  Keep in mind, it takes a long time to truly understand a process. That’s why a bachelor’s degree takes four years, most companies promote at minimum one year of employment, and more often than not, a new company takes a few years to make a real profit. 

People tend to think that simply showing up is good enough. It’s not. If you really want a job or business to work, you have to research how to make that happen, implement advice from those who have done it, practice, and not throw your hands up if things don’t go your way. It won’t more times than it will. Reevaluate and try again. 

The saying “team work makes the dream work” ain’t playin. Any big success story never happened with a single person doing everything solo. Sorry to burst your bubble, but success takes time. More time than many allow for. It takes a team and excellent leadership to keep the ship sailing forward. If a leader is unorganized, unwilling to train, or feels their superiority over employees means the team will take whatever abuse is thrown at them, it’s not going to work. Your team will leave and laugh when your ship sinks. It’s that simple. But it’s not hopeless: learn from the error and do better next time. Don’t just say it, do it. Denying the problem only makes it worse, and prolongs financial stability.

The same goes for trying too hard to please employees. They work for you, you don’t work for them. Set clear boundaries. It’s ok to be liked, but when boundaries are crossed into the friend zone, problems rear their ugly heads. Just like a bitch boss can suck the positivity out of a job, a soft boss can sabotage the business by allowing employees to take advantage of your kindness.  

Successful people understand that employees are a resource. Great leaders respect their team and their efforts while quietly demanding the same respect in return. They encourage, motivate, provide support, and reward accurately. And why not? These are the people making it happen. Without a team, you are nothing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all alone. 

So what do we do if our great idea crashes and burns? Most people will slink away in a cloud of defeat, promising to never expose themselves like that again. Better safe than sorry. Some will pick themselves up out of the mud, evaluate what went wrong by blaming others, and hit it again by stubbornly using the same method that didn’t work the last time. I doubt I need to tell you how that ends up.

Successful people pick themselves out of the muck, brush themselves off, evaluate what went wrong, and hit it again with a different strategy. And maybe this will be the time it works. 

Having problems getting started? Check out Overcoming the Fear of Failure.