We’ve all heard the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – it’s an idea that has been widely accepted for centuries, since it first appeared in Greek culture, around the 3rd Century BC.
We “get” that the perception of beauty is subjective.
What you find beautiful, I might not.
And we are all generally pretty OK with that.
But, what about failure? Is that subjective too?
This can be a much tougher concept to accept… especially because failure can often be so painful and the effects so clearly evident.
Either you win the contract or you don’t.
Either you get a standing ovation or you don’t.
Either you meet this year’s budget or you don’t.
But what we found when we recently asked the inspiring women inducted into this year’s Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame was a much more “subjective” view of failure.
They teach us there is no black and white when it comes to defining something as a failure. Especially when it becomes a learning experience that opens your eyes to new opportunities, new ways of doing things and new directions.
Every single woman inducted into this year’s Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame is no stranger to failure…and yet, they are some of the brightest and most successful women in business today.
How have they taken their failures and turned them into assets? How do they cope with failure when it happens? And what can you learn from how they re-frame failure that could be the one big thing that helps you grow your business this year?
Here are 5 insights from this year’s Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame Inductees regarding how to think about “failure”.
Embrace Failure – The Risk Is Worth It
Amantha Imber, Founder and Head Inventiologist at Inventium, one of Australia’s leading innovation consultancies, says it’s important to embrace failure.
“I feel like I have a healthy relationship with failure. For me, it’s all about the opportunity to learn. If I don’t take a risk (and therefore, risk failing), the opportunity for learning is much more difficult.”
Today, the risk of doing her own thing has certainly paid off as Amantha now stands at the helm of one of Australia’s fastest growing businesses. She’s also a best-selling author and co-creator of the BRW Most Innovative Companies List.
Be Prepared To Accept the Consequences
Anna Hooper, innovative Chief Winemaker at acclaimed Cape Jaffe Wines, adopts an approach of fearlessness when it comes to failure. She says that’s how she can make room for great things to happen in her business and her life.
“My biggest fear is of being unable to front up to a challenge. Taking on a big and intimidating venture means being willing to accept the consequences if it doesn’t go to plan. But it’s where courage and daring combine that great things often happen.”
Don’t Worry About the Naysayers
Named one of the top 10 business entrepreneurs in Australia in 2015, Beverley Honig, CEO of Honeylight Enterprises, has learned a thing or two about trailblazing. And one of her best pieces of advice when it comes to handling knockbacks is to forget about those naysayers who claim something can’t be done.
“Those people who trailblaze must possess the strength and courage of heart to work against the norms and those who say it won’t work. Lean in or you may be leaned on.”
This is an approach that has earned Beverley dozens of accolades throughout her career and helped her build and lead numerous successful ventures, including as Chairman of Greenville Developments Upcycled Shipping Container Buildings, which earned her Most Sustainable Innovator Award from the Green Building Council of Australia.
Homeless at 16 years of age, Laurie McDonald of Canberra Furnished Accommodation made a decision that would determine the future direction of her life. Without any support or resources, others may have felt defeated and hopeless, however, Laurie decided “the only way was up.”
And “up” she went. Building three businesses, one of which comprises more than 50 furnished residences in central Canberra. Along the way she renovated 33 properties, founded other businesses, created her dream family life and received numerous awards in the process.
That’s not to say there weren’t setbacks and failures. However, Laurie recommends we celebrate our mistakes as priceless learning experiences.
“Remember that there are the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and this is just part of the journey of being a business owner. Celebrate mistakes – yours, and even more importantly, your teams’, they are valuable learning experiences that mostly cannot be bought through traditional education.”
This is a belief also shared by fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Maud Edmiston, who arrived in Perth in 1968 from Stockholm and revolutionized the Perth hospitality industry opening WA’s first authentic Smörgåsbord restaurant.
Since that time she has expanded her empire to include a hotel, 16 pastry houses, a thriving online catering business and a Swedish bakery.
“There is no blame culture here. Our entire team recognises that a problem is the beginning of a solution – we celebrate, using it as the stimulus for innovation and positive changes.”
Lisa Messenger of Collective Hub has done something in recent years that many would think impossible. In a climate of declining print magazine readership where we’ve seen the demise of many of our most popular publications, Lisa started her own magazine, even though she’d never published a magazine before, and triumphed where many more experienced publishers and editors had failed before her.
Lisa’s attitude to failure leaves a clue as to how she’s managed to achieve such phenomenal success is such a short period of time.
“Fail fast. Setbacks are just that – they set you back. So fail fast and move on without losing so much time, money and resources.”
And it’s a strategy that has enabled Lisa to not only disrupt an entire industry, seeing her Collective Hub magazine distributed to more than 37 countries, but it’s also been a mantra that’s enabled her to run a successful book publishing business, become a best-selling author and create a social media following of more than 100,000.