One of the hardest things to do is accept failure. Humans are generally competitive. We like to win. Intuitively we know that everyone shouldn’t get a trophy. Sometimes other people do better than us. We know it deep down inside, even if our friends try to tell us that we didn’t fail. That’s one of the many reasons socialism doesn’t work.
It happens in athletics too. Yesterday, Michigan got what I thought was a bad spot in overtime against Ohio St. They lost. Harbaugh was certainly critical of the officials-but he accepted the defeat. It doesn’t mean you like it. It doesn’t mean that you don’t work on the things that you can get better at. It doesn’t mean that next year the same thing will happen. This isn’t Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. But, you cannot move on until you accept it.
There are times when people quit before they should. When it comes to startups, most of the time they fail so sticking with it until you find some product market fit is part of the game. Being able to have enough cash flow to keep the enterprise afloat keeps you in the game. Sometimes, the carrot at the end of the rainbow is so big, it’s worth fighting extra hard for. But, there is a time to quit and move on. Otherwise you will destroy yourself.
I knew a person that never received anything except an A their entire school career. From kindergarten all the way through high school they only received A’s. When they got to college, they received a B. Things started to spiral downward. Eventually, they tried to kill themselves. In their whole life, they had never learned what it was like to fail.
Failure should not be a scarlet letter. I remember an entrepreneur talking to me about their business. It was going down. They were unable to raise capital, and unable to get enough customer traction to get some revenue in the door. They were new, so not a lot of employees were affected. But, the entrepreneur could see the writing on the wall. What was their biggest worry? Being labeled a failure.
My response was “if we don’t accept failure as a part of the process, then we aren’t going to have too many people take any risks. In the Midwest, that means we cannot have a startup community.” Period. You cannot have success without having failure.
Failure transcends lots of things. Elections are a lot like that. Sometimes we have close elections. Richard Nixon could have asked for a vote recount in the election with Kennedy back in 1960. He walked away for the good of the country and ran again in 1968, winning. He won again in 1972. Of course, his mistrust of lots of things caused him to lose the Presidency.
In 2000, Gore barely lost to Bush. After several recounts and much acrimony that still remains today, Bush was still the winner. In 2004, the Democrats thought they beat Bush again. John Kerry was measuring the drapes in the White House, until Ohio came in.
This last year, Trump beat Clinton pretty badly in the Electoral College. We have a “democratic Republic” in the US, not a “democracy”. There are great reasons for that linked here. Hillary won the popular vote, pretty much in a couple of deep blue states. The classy thing to do would be to acknowledge her own missteps. She was outsmarted strategically. She didn’t take care of business where she needed to take care of business. Democrats are saying “if we just talked about our policies differently”…..which is what they said about Obamacare and no one likes Obamacare. Democrats will say if electors switch their vote from Trump to Clinton, it’s a sign the Republic works. Unfortunately for them, people on the other side of the valley can give you as many reasons why electors shouldn’t switch their votes. We just had an election, and Clinton failed.
Instead, it looks like the Democrats will put the country through vote recounts. That’s not smart long term strategy. We don’t want politics to turn into tit for tat. But, the country is so divided we look like we are on that road.
It doesn’t end well, even for the Republicans.