Embracing Failure


The other day I was watching an interview with Adam Levine, lead singer for Maroon 5. He’s been incredibly successful. In the interview, he was talking about his beginnings.

He came out of high school with a recording contract for his band called Kara’s Flowers. They thought they were going to make it big and they bombed.  Adam talked about how they regrouped and renamed the band. They added a fifth member and came out with Maroon 5. The rest is history.  They failed first and moved forward. 

Then there’s Michael Jordan. He tries out in his sophomore year for the varsity basketball team. He doesn’t make it.  In fact he stays on junior varsity, works really hard for over a year and, in his junior year, he makes the varsity team.  Of course, Michael goes on to North Carolina and then to the Chicago Bulls and becomes a superstar.

What do these two very successful people have in common?  It’s failure.  When failure took place in their lives, they turned around, went at it again and then ultimately became successful.

But plenty of people fail and just quit. What’s going on? One answer I’ve heard is grit. There’s a study that Angela Duckworth put out several years ago. Some of it is explained in an excellent TED talk.  It’s about six minutes long and worth a watch.

Angela initially worked as a seventh grade teacher. She saw successful kids and unsuccessful kids, and observed that their success wasn’t related to their IQ. She became a psychologist and started studying this.  Angela wanted to know what did successful West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee champions or finalists, teachers who make it at inner-city schools and successful sales people have in common.

She says it’s this thing called grit.  To me, grit is having these long-term goals and sticking to them.  It’s about recognizing and treating life as a marathon.  It’s about being passionate and persevering through tough times to make your life be what you want it to be.

Angela points out that grit is actually more important than talent. You can find talented people that are not necessarily successful, and you can have people that are not as talented be successful.

I remember this too from my beginnings in sales where I learned that it takes six no’s before you get a yes. That can be tough and many of the salespeople I knew just gave up after a while.  For the success to come, you had to keep moving on through each of the no’s.  That’s grit and grit will make you successful.

In the TED talk, Angela tells the audience that she’s not sure exactly how you get the grit but one common characteristic was a future-based growth orientation. You establish goals connected to that and you seek them out every day. And then you’re going to fail. Not only fail, but you’ll fail often.  As you fail, you get closer to succeeding in the future.

You have to keep embracing failure, even though most of us don’t want to do that. In business it’s extremely important to embrace failure.  You have to fail, fail often, and fail quickly.  Then those successes come and hopefully as you move along you end up with a very successful business that keeps growing. And failing toward your next success.

At Coyle Financial, we embrace failure regularly. As an example, we put together a seminar called Taking Charge of Your Wealth. We failed more than a dozen times and each time we improved it so that now our presentation is polished and clear. Next time we’ll improve it a little more.

I would like to invite you to come to one of our upcoming seminars and see for yourself how embracing failure has led to a clear and simple presentation on taking charge of your wealth. We’d love to have you join us.

If you can’t come to the seminar and you’d like to talk to us directly, we’re always open for a complimentary consultation. Give us a call at 800-480-7913; we’d love to speak with you.

So until next time, enjoy.

Send me your response, query or comment to gklaben@coylefinancial.com.