The Academy

Five Rules To Rebound From Failure

When business fails most people don’t only tend to see it as a setback; they think it’s the end of the road. They take it personal. They don’t want to talk about it and don’t even want to remember it. They just want to escape as quickly as they can and just get on with their lives. There are many reasons why people tend to respond this way. Perhaps the most common in Nigeria is stigma. Ibrahim Alhassan, who struggled with his textile material retailing business for many years, is a good example. He was rejected from a military academy and failed his qualifying exam as a chartered accountant. The real kicker came when textile suppliers cut him off as a result of mounting debts. He had dipped his hands into sales to cater for pressing family needs, leaving his business badly exposed. He was waiting for his landlord to kick him out when he approached a family friend, who gave him the following advice. It was a lifesaver. You, too, might just find it useful: 

Don’t pretend it never happened. 

People are often so anxious to avoid the stigma of failure that they refuse to admit what happened. Denial usually results in a host of other problems, including internal stress and delaying any effective remedy. 

The late Dale Carnegie, a well-regarded lecturer and author of the bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said that when you’re quick to admit that you screwed up, your peers will stop holding your feet to the fire and actually begin to comfort you.

Avoid making excuses. 

Some people wiggle past the truth by admitting to a problem they sugarcoat in excuses. I was one of them. At one point during my teenage years I was homeless and an alcoholic. At every turn, I told myself that all my shortcomings were not my fault.  My situation only improved when I stopped making excuses and focused on a productive goal. 

Don't confuse a failed goal for a failed person. 

Sometimes people take the opposite approach from what I just described. They blame themselves for any and every failure, creating a pattern of negative self-reinforcement. Assuming you'll invariably screw up is dangerous thinking -- and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of setting up a mental pattern for failure, ask yourself how you can improve.

Remember, you are not alone. 

People fail to reach goals all the time. Take football players, for example. They shoot the ball many times over the course of a long, 90-minute game. And when they fail, they do it in front of millions of TV viewers. The point is that we’re not robots. Everyone’s bound to stumble every once in a while.

Focus on the lessons learned. 

The only way to survive such a world-class level of failure is to focus on the future. Not many people can say they’ve literally lost billions of dollars and chalk it up to "business lessons." I’m currently rebuilding my company, which now has a portfolio valued at $100 million. 

Culled from and adapted