12 Empowering Lessons About Failure

UPDATED: May 22, 2023
PUBLISHED: August 17, 2017

Building the confidence necessary to take failure in stride isn’t easy. And it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Like all great habits, you have to put in the time and effort to build a daily practice of confidence-building actions. Take these lessons learned from entrepreneurs who have faced numerous failures as your starting point.

Related: 6 Ways to Bounce Back Faster

1. Failure isn’t forever.

There’s no way to talk yourself out of a fear of failure: You just have to keep embracing challenging projects until you have the experience to understand that failure isn’t forever. Failure will have consequences, but don’t let your attitude add extra ones. Get back on your feet and try something new. Try something easier if it will get you back in the groove.

—Adam Steele, The Magistrate

2. “This too shall pass.”

Rejection or adversity that seems so important right now will be forgotten by tomorrow, next week or next year. Your life will go on, and if you stick to your values and what you know to be important, you’ll weather the slings and arrows of fortune and be all the stronger for it.

—Vik Patel, Future Hosting

3. Failure isn’t unique.

No one goes through life or work without some kind of adversity, rejection and low confidence. Successful people learn how to deal with those inevitabilities, so why can’t I? At least that’s what I tell myself whenever I start feeling down for whatever reason. Then break it down and learn from it, so that it doesn’t happen again.

—Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

4. Criticism doesn’t equal judgment.

What other people think of you is none of your business. You need to take feedback with a grain of salt. The more you can distance yourself and not judge yourself, the better you’ll be able to focus on the actual work.

—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

5. Not everything is about you.

People reject you for their own reasons, and those reasons often have little to do with you. Don’t let it knock your confidence, because it’s often not a reflection of your competence or character. Focus on doing good work and making good choices. Let other people’s judgments fall where they may.

—Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

6. Time is the greatest teacher.

The more experiences and time you have dealing with those situations, the thicker your skin will get because you will see a pattern to what is happening and understand more about why these situations occur. It has helped me to face numerous situations that seemed horrible at the time to increase my resilience.

—John Rampton, Due

7. Rejection is a powerful tool.

Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest stories are about people who have overcome adversity? Most of these stories are possible because adversity and rejection make people stronger. Adversity and rejection are useful tools for anyone who wants to get better and improve in any area of life. Start seeing rejection as a tool and something useful.

—Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

8. Practice becomes reality.

Sometimes it’s hard to be confident and strong when you’re faced with challenging situations. The best thing to do is to fake being confident and work through whatever it is you’re feeling. If you really think about it, you’re not faking it; you’re just practicing good habits. Simply, if you practice something long enough, you’ll realize you’ve become a master at it.

—Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc

9. Honesty hurts now and helps later.

Training for anything is invaluable. Rejection is no different. Experiencing it is a quick way to immunize yourself to it. One mistake is that people often talk themselves down (I suck) or up (Screw that guy, I’m right) afterward. Trying to calm emotions and apply any valuable, honest critique of your performance are quick ways to improve and avoid the situation in the future.

—Brennan White, Cortex

10. Relationships are key.

I surround myself with people I care about and I let people who I care about know it. The best way to face adversity or rejection is to know you have people who understand and love you nearby. Relationships often allow us to look at situations from new perspectives, and this can help us see positivity in every kind of situation.

—Zev Herman, Superior Lighting

11. Humility has power.

Humility is an undervalued commodity, so it’s a great time to buy. Acknowledging the help and contributions of others on the team prevents you from being too high to hear the opinions of others, and the lows of not feeling like you can do it on your own.

—Tim Chaves, ZipBooks

12. Knowledge expands your perspective.

There are some great books on this topic that go far deeper than we can get into here. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson and You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero are two of my favorites.

—Sam Saxton, Paragon Stairs

Related: 21 Quotes About Failing Fearlessly

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.