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Diary Of An Under 30 CEO: Rising From The Ashes Of Failure


Failure in business
Success in life is a matter not so much of talent or opportunity as of concentration and perseverance

AFRICANGLOBE – “Unless you have courage, a courage that keeps you going, always going, no matter what happens, there is no certainty of success. It is really an endurance race,” said Henry Ford.

What really matters is not the number of failures that an entrepreneur has endured, rather the courage, perseverence and power of belief to keep going despite the hailstorms he or she is in the midst of.

Recently, I came across a depressed young entrepreneur who left my heart bleeding after he had narrated his ordeal in trying to establish his business. However, this was not what rattled me though, his desire to throw in the towel and retreat to the comfort of a secure job is what shocked me. He had been in business for 2 years, and there seemed to be no growth in his business venture. This depressing set of circumstances seemed to have taken its toll on him, and was about to claim another casualty, that of entrepreneurs who quit too soon.

J.K.Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, speaking to the privileged graduating class of Harvard University in June 2008 was quoted saying, “You might never fail on the scale I did. But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all-in which case, you fail by default.”

Twelve publishers rejected her first Harry Potter manuscript that she wrote on an old manual typewriter. To compound to her misery, she was penniless, severely depressed, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own, at the same time attending school whilst depending on welfare to survive.

Rowling has become a rich woman because of the publication of her Harry Potter series of novels. She probably out of desperation believed that the measure of success can be shown by the number of times someone keeps going despite hearing only NO.

It’s important to remember exactly how Apple got to be the World’s most powerful brand until now because we may never experience anything like the roller-coaster Apple has been through again. This doesn’t mean we might never have an individual that reshapes an industry at the least, if they can’t reshape three industries like Steve Jobs.

Co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs was unceremoniously fired from his own company, thereby hitting rock bottom and had to claw his way back to the top, dragging industries towards a better future, whilst at the same time inspiring the world.

What is easily forgettable is that if Steve Jobs was such a brilliant genius, such a world-class marketer, why did he still keep making the same obvious mistakes before his second coming at Apple?

Steve Jobs brought us the iconic iPod, the iTunes store, the magnificent iPhone and transformed personal computing and multimedia. However, we can’t forget that Jobs brought us also Lisa (the first personal computer sold to the public with a GUI), which was an absolute disaster when it was introduced in the early 1980s. This personal computer cost tens of millions of dollars to develop and however it became a colossal commercial failure.

After being fired from Apple, thanks partly to the Lisa fiasco, Steve Jobs didn’t reflect on what his epic failures at Apple meant and went on to hastily start NeXT with little planning.

Due to his blindness to the lessons to be learnt from the circumstances that led to his firing, NeXT was launched based on a desire to show the world that he had been the heart and soul of Apple. NeXT’s biggest achievement was that it was purchased by Apple paving a way back for Jobs’ second coming.

Gil Amelio the then CEO of Apple didn’t realize that when he chose to purchase NeXT and its NeXTSTEP operating system, NeXT was sinking fast and was a big financial drain on Steve Jobs’ pocket. Apple provided the breathing space and relief that was needed by NeXT.

At a time when failure is beginning to be embraced in today’s post-recession economy, Steve Jobs is a constant reminder that failure is good and that the greatest glories are born of catastrophe. From those failures Jobs was able to give people products they didn’t know they wanted, and those products have become indispensable to their lives, which in turn made Apple the world’s most powerful brand.

Steve Jobs knew that the sweetest victory is the one that is most difficult. He fought with everything he had, even though NeXT and Pixar were a financial drain to him. He kept going until Disney brought salvation by agreeing to a deal which meant tens of millions of dollars would flow into the coffers of Pixar.

Failure helps us to re-evaluate how we have done things in the past and pushes us beyond our comfort zone whilst the zeal to apply the new found insight so as to become successful is ingrained in our mindset. “One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone,” Heath says.

Walt Disney was the man behind The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Company has become a drum-beating promotional machine that has given us Disney World and Mickey Mouse. A newspaper editor once fired him because, “he lacked imagination and had no good original ideas.” Walt Disney took responsibility for the results he created in his life and started a number of businesses that ended with bankruptcy and failure after a short period of time operating.

His very first animation company and cartoon production went bankrupt. It is believed that he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World. Up to this day The Walt Disney Company rakes in billions from movies, merchandise and theme parks around the world.

Persistence, resilience and a burning desire to succeed should determine how much you believe in what you are doing. There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

There is no success without failure. IT’S REALITY. Abraham Lincoln said, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

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