Lessons on failure from a students trip to San Francisco

Megan Gesler

During the two weeks I spent in San Francisco I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with some amazing WMU alumni. I gathered a multitude of advice, and experiences that I will never forget. An important lesson I learned was not to be afraid of failure. In school we have been taught that failing is detrimental, and will never lead to success, although we are inevitably going to fail. We must use our failures as building blocks for our successes. We cannot allow our fear of failures to stop us from aiming for success. Likewise, we cannot fall backwards from our failures, rather we must use them to grow. Especially in the Silicon Valley, failure is like a badge of honor. These successful people didn’t take a perfectly straight road to success. We can’t get down on ourselves for failure, because without it we couldn’t succeed.

“Wear failure is a badge of honor” -Dragos Maciuca, Ford Innovation

With failure usually comes change, this is also something that we must be able to deal with. Lots of people don’t like change, but breaking from your routine can be good for you. In order to be a successful entrepreneur you must accept that everything could change in a second. In times of change take time for yourself, take a step back if you feel overwhelmed, but don’t give up on your new life. Failure itself can’t stop your career, but you must be able to overcome it.

“Put yourself in a position where if you fail, you fall forward” -George Hoyem, In-Q-Tel

Try and stay optimistic. During the time of failure and change it can be hard to remain positive. Try and write out your goals as a way of motivating yourself to continue moving forwards. Don’t let negative emotions take over, you will feel them, but allow them to pass. Don’t allow yourself to check out or lose sight of your goals, try taking another look at your goal list, or maybe construct a new one. Fight to avoid pessimism, and keep that same confidence you started with.

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