Biz Tips: To Succeed, You Have to Know When to Fail

Behind just about every great success story, there is a story of failure. We see the end result, the end of a long journey. We need to remember that behind all of those success stories, there are challenges and failures. In a recent interview with Success magazine, Kendra Scott, founder of Kendra Scott Designs, spoke of her first big business venture before the Kendra Scott brand turned into a huge success.

There is a lot of inspiring advice out there that talks about not being afraid to fail and getting back up again, etc, etc. I myself have advised many times that the two biggest keys to success are hard work and persistence. But what most of that advice neglects to point out is that it isn't just about failing then trying again and eventually coming out on top. It's isn't about doing the same thing over and over with little success. It's about failing on purpose. Knowing when to give up. When to try something different.

Before starting Kendra Scott Designs, she invested and lost her life savings in a failed attempt at a retail hat shop. She never gave up on her dream of owning her own business in the fashion industry, but she did give up on this specific business. More time spent on that would've been more time wasted. She took a little time to wallow then picked herself back up and moved onto the next thing...something that would turn into a multi-million dollar company.

It can be hard, I know, to give up on a challenge. The thing about the type of people who are prone to succeed, to persevere, we have a bad habit of sticking it out - that tendency to keep fighting the same challenges and hoping for a different outcome. We have a deep need for our efforts to pay off, but some challenges are meant to be set aside. Sometimes the biggest successes come after failing, because rather than continuing to swim against the current, we decide that there should be a better easier way. This often leads to a better path.

Take for example a bad marriage. Our tendency is to stick it out through thick and thin. Now, I'm not about to say I'm against commitment and loyalty. But there is a huge difference between a good, loving relationship with challenges here and there vs. a bad relationship that never gets better no matter how hard and long you try. It's hard to fail.

But if you've found yourself in a place where you're swimming against the current, if you continue on that path, you will always be swimming against the current. Things will never get better. There may be somewhat easier times here and there, but the same struggles will always be there...the same pains and sacrifices with no payout, so really, what is the point?

In business (and in relationships) however, there is some work involved, some sacrifices to be made. How can we know that the sacrifices are worth it? How do we know whether or not it's time to fail? In a word - progress. There should be a measurable pay out. There should be fruit. If you've already taken a good hard look at different areas you can improve and given it all you've got, and you've yet to see a measurable and continuously increasing improvement, it may be time to fail. To see what success there is to be found by going in a different direction.

I don't agree with everything in Kendra Scott's interview. For example, I'm not going to sit here and say that the struggles in your life have happened because there is something amazing waiting for open window. While the struggles do make you stronger and more equipped to be successful in the future, the futile struggles aren't here because of a possible future success. Rather they are things we have to go through, things we have to push along, things we have to stop just accepting as they are, things we have to demand get better.

And if after your best efforts, there is still no progress, it's time to fail. Time to walk away. This is the quickest way to success. I really have to credit my fiance here, because while I've had a habit of making the best of bad situations, he has caused me to question why those things in my life weren't better. If you're after success, you have to demand things get better. Test the hypothesis. Don't just dream of success (or a good relationship for that matter). Put your efforts to the test and, whether good or bad, see what comes of it.


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