How to Change Your Relationship with Failure
with Jack Lee Matthews
with guest Jack Lee Matthews #MakingBankS5E10
Whether you own your own business or you’re just starting out, failure feels personal to all entrepreneurs. If you make a mistake working under someone else, you and your boss may have to face the consequences. However, if you take the wrong path as an entrepreneur, you may be at risk of losing your livelihood. Yet, failure for a founder goes beyond that.
Many people are afraid to begin their entrepreneurial journey. They may have a great idea or can build a great product, but the financial risk holds them back. When you are solely responsible for your own income, you feel the immense pressure to always get things right. Perhaps, your business is doing well, but you’re afraid to take greater risks for better rewards.
Mistakes can leave you feeling incompetent, insecure in your abilities. They can shake your sense of self.
But here’s the thing: every entrepreneur fails at some point. It’s unavoidable. So how can you overcome your mistakes? How can you reduce their negative impact? The first thing you must do is alter your perspective on mistakes themselves.
On a recent episode of the Making Bank podcast, guest Jack Lee Matthews discusses why you shouldn’t fear mistakes and how to properly embrace them.
Ten years ago, Jack Lee was living in his mother’s basement, and described himself then as financially, emotionally, and spiritually broken. From a small town in North Carolina, he felt he was meant for more, so he moved to LA where he began selling cars. After two years, he was raking in millions for Porche when he caught the entrepreneurial bug. He started his own marketing firm before founding Fansplan.com, a social media platform that helps entrepreneurs with monetization. In his episode, however, he focuses on the mistakes that helped contribute to his success he has today.
Avoid Silly Mistakes
The first thing that you need to do is differentiate between silly mistakes and those that are unavoidable. Some mistakes occur through trial and error: through us trying to learn. These blunders are good as they can teach us hard lessons in a swift manner. However, there are also the slipups we have that we don’t have to experience. Matthews says: “one of the biggest failures that I had in the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey was that I wanted to go fast—I still want to go fast, but I’ve learned that you got to delay the instant gratification.”
Matthews talks on how seeking out instant gratification can be the death of your career. If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, you may feel extremely ambitious and motivated. However, its common to conflate motivation with impatience. While feeling excited about starting a company is a good state to be in, you don’t want to unnecessarily rush things if it’s not the right time. Matthew says, “delay the instant gratification and do things the right way. So that way you only have to build it one time.” He urges any enthusiastic, young entrepreneur to be patient, and build their company correctly instead of just quickly.
How to Alter Your View
Say you’re founding your first company, and everything seems new. While there are books you can read, courses you can take, you ultimately have to learn by trying. Through this process, there will be pitfalls you can’t escape. Some entrepreneurs find themselves crippled by this fear of mistakes. They may even believe that their personal value is tied to the success of their companies—so if their business fails, then they are a failure. However, they could accidentally pass up on incredible opportunities by trying to play it safe. On this, Matthews says, “A lot of people tip toe through life but I would encourage you to stomp through life. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fall on your face, but between success and failure, the step is so small.”
By fearing mistakes you’re creating the mind frame that avoids failure, instead of pursuing success. This anxious approach doesn’t have a great track record for helping companies grow. After all, how can you excel if you aren’t actively chasing after success?
Matthews, as many others understand, urge young entrepreneurs to accept that at some point, they will fail. In fact, Matthews believes its necessary to fail, so that you can learn as an entrepreneur and improve your company. He states: “I think that’s the thing that people lose sight of: that true success is found through failure.”
Keep it short
Since failure is inevitable, how can you make it work for you and not completely take down your whole company and life? Matthews has an intelligent and interesting theory on this. He says, “You’re going to fail, but how fast can you fail and just keep moving forward? I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I haven’t spent a long time making those mistakes. I’ve spent short times with that mistake. I’ll be like, ‘wow, that was a really bad mistake. Never again.’”
What Matthews is essentially saying is that once you make a mistake, pivot. Adapt your strategy as quickly as you can. Sometimes we feel loyal to our decisions, even when we’ve realized those decisions aren’t working for us. You might keep with a course because you’ve chosen it and want to see it through.
You may feel like a quitter at the thought of abandoning this path. However, you have the right to change your mind, and at any point. It’s important to recognize when something isn’t working for you, accept this, and move on for your sake and your company’s sake. You may experience a bruised ego, but you might be able to save—or improve—or business. You aren’t a quitter, you’re an adapter.
Be willing to try new things with the understanding that you may have to later pivot. All successful entrepreneurs aren’t ones without hardships, but rather ones that have mastered the art of adapting to obstacles.