As Chris Dixon pointed out in a recent blog post, Angry Birds, the incredibly popular game, was software maker Rovio’s 52nd attempt. They spent eight years and nearly went bankrupt before finally creating their massive hit.
James Dyson failed in 5,126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Groupon was put on life support and nearly shut down at one point in its meteoric rise.
When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine geniuses with a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks.
We often celebrate companies and individuals once they’ve achieved undeniable success, but shun their disruptive thinking before reaching such a pinnacle. Before Oprah was Oprah, before Jobs was Jobs, they were labeled as misguided dreamers rather than future captains of industry.
In your life, you’ve probably had a setback or two. When you stumble, it’s tempting the throw in the towel and accept defeat. There’s always an attractive excuse waiting eagerly, hoping you’ll take the easy way out. But the most successful people forge ahead. They realize that mistakes are simply data, providing new information to adjust your approach going forward.
The ubiquitous WD-40 lubricant got its name because the first 39 experiments failed. WD-40 literally stands for “Water Displacement–40th Attempt.” If they gave up early on like most of us do, we’d sure have a lot more squeaky hinges in the world.
You have a mission to accomplish and an enormous impact to make. You will inevitably endure some “failures” along your journey, but you must realize that persistence and determination have always been primary ingredients in accomplishment.
Don’t cave to your mistakes, embrace them. In fact, mistakes are simply to the portals of discovery. There’s an old saying that “every bull’s-eye is the result of a hundred misses.” So the next time you feel the sting of failure, just realize you’re likely one shot closer to hitting your target.
And who knows? Maybe after a few dozen failures and months or years of hard work, you might just be that next “overnight” success.
For more insight on creativity and innovation, visit joshlinkner.com.
[Image: Flickr user Dillon Hinson]