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Don’t be Afraid of Failure

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Amal is part of the Entrepreneurship Center in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in a number of roles including the New Ventures Acceleration and Corporate Innovation program. Amal is a passionate professional in designing experiences, guiding corporates and startups to innovation and customer centric design, providing creative solutions, achieving mastery in service industry, manipulating the tools of marketing to evoke customers’ emotions. She is also immersed in working on corporate innovation to instill the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing social and business environment leading to great rewards and returns.

There is something very common that every entrepreneur share and that is the fear of taking the next big step. When it comes to teaching entrepreneurship and creativity there is always that fear of not doing so well in the things we want to do, we want to be perfect, we don’t want to fail but guess what? Fair is a part of our lives.

Children don’t seem to have that fear of not doing things right, so why do we hesitate before we do something new? Common answer is that we don’t have the proper training that qualifies us, prepare us to do well enough. This is what stops people, in general, and corporates from innovating and coming up with something creative and new.

That is probably why, in any corporate and big set up when proposing something new, it’s a panic mode! Suddenly there must be various board meetings, putting a strategy that may take up a year or even longer and then there is the possibility that the project might never be executed. Whereas if they tested it and just attempted a trial then may be things will play out differently and this is the difference between the corporates and startups.

I’m not saying that people in startups are never afraid of failure, because fear of failing is still tingling, what I’m trying to say is that we should know what causes it; the reason behind our fear is our cultures, we are afraid of being judged or being told we have done what we are not supposed to do. So how do I get over that? Simple and clear, you should expect it. When you startup you have to know that failure is basically built in whether you like it or not; our attitude is that you should see it coming, internalize it while knowing it’s a step to learn and when you do that then you are no longer afraid, you become empowered.

When entrepreneurs understand the customers’ needs, when they go out and test it themselves they actually reach that confidence and so they are not jumping to the unknown. They will know it’s a calculated risk, an affordable loss they can get over it without ruining the whole work, and this is a key for people and entrepreneurs who are dealing with this.

Failure is not something you study at school, it is an internal feeling we go through we only learn through experiencing it. We only learn by doing it and acting and failing and learning and internalizing and then going forward. A metaphor of trampoline used by one of Babson professors says, “For you to get really high, you need to get low”. First time you are scared, second time you got better and third time you have learned the skill so you begin practicing it creatively.

May be a lot of us noticed that after going through failure our minds don’t register it as failure, it becomes a part of experience we add to our personality which widens the dimensions of who we can become and how far we can reach. This probably the reason why startup does not use the word “failure” but the word “pivot” or “success in the making”.

What to do when there is an opportunity ahead of me? First and foremost, act and execute because execution is the key that will drive you to the next level. It is ok to fail because only then you will learn what to do and what not to do.

Accepting failure does not mean encouragement to fail. It simply means you should expect it to happen, be ok with it and don’t panic, stand up right away so quickly and don’t surrender, because surrendering to failure is the end.

─ December 22, 2019