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The offensive F word in business

Failure – Part 2

Here comes the F bomb:  Failure.  I was recently talking about the subject of failure with somebody.  They stated that it is a strong word, and questioned whether it should be said.  “Can we not find another term?”  Fair enough, I thought.  I never liked hearing it when it was about me or my ventures. But, why is it such a harsh word?  I think it may be that stating something to be either pass or fail is black and white, whereas business situations are often in the grey area.  “Failure” suggests that it is a waste, rather than a stepping stone to success.  I have never heard a success story where everything was easy.  Rather, it seems as though things have a way of coming full circle.

f bomb

I usually call my failed business venture “an expensive MBA”, for a couple reasons: 1) I was either going to obtain an MBA or start a business, I chose the latter, and 2) I learned a lot more practical business lessons in the 3 years of bootstrapping companies than I ever would have in school (I’ll go into detail in a future post).  Sure, the expenses exceeded the revenues, but it wasn’t a failure for me as it helped me progress in many ways.

I invite successful entrepreneurs and professionals to share their stories at Biz Under 40 events called Bigwig Lunch Times (BLTs).  We have had great speakers with many inspirational journeys.  Pretty much every speaker had one thing in common:  they failed.  Another common trait was how they dealt with failure.  They didn’t dwell on it or continuously feel sorry for themselves. Instead, they learned from it and moved forward.

Stamp of Failure

Failure is not an F word stamped on your forehead.  It is a fluid stage in a project where a desired result wasn’t achieved.  There is a quote about success from Winston Churchill that I’ve always liked:  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.

What term could be used to replace “Failure”?  I suggest calling these situations a “wrap-up”. The end of the life cycle for an unsuccessful venture (i.e. opposite of a start-up).  You simply found that it was time to “wrap-up” and move onto something else.  No use dwelling on it, but grow from the learning lessons and work on another opportunity.

What are your thoughts on the F word: Failure?  Do you have another term you’d like to suggest? Please share your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

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