There’s something odd about entrepreneurs failure: it often hits hardest for those least likely to experience it – hardworking, independent people.
Unfortunately, it happens to everyone. No matter where you are in your career, you’re going to fail to perform. You’re going to make mistakes.
Read: 3 Ways that Entrepreneurs Fail at their Personal Branding
You may even form what seem to be a pattern of screwing up.
The worst failure comes when you give up. So, what’s the best way to take responsibility for failure while still keeping your chin up?
How Entrepreneurs Fail
As with most things in life and business, approaching challenges with an entrepreneurial mindset can make all the difference in the world.
Entrepreneurs succeed when they create value for customers. Sometimes things work out the other way – providing a product or service in the real world sometimes means not always being able to provide the kind of value customers want.
Do entrepreneurs shut down their companies when they disappoint or even lose a customer? Of course not. They realize that they can still be valuable to others, and they use failure as feedback to create that value.
Failure and the Employee Mindset
In life as an employee, it’s easy to assume that you depend on one employer for your livelihood or one job title for your self-worth. When you fail, you’re usually being rejected by someone higher up, and it’s easy to forget that you’re not back in school and being scolded by a teacher or coach.
This is a part of the employee mindset that can be crippling. If you tie yourself (as many do) to an identity as “employee of X company,” you will lose the flexibility and adaptability entrepreneurs have. You’ll either manage to hold on to your job and your position (and perhaps your self-worth) or fail to keep them.
There isn’t much feedback in this mindset, but there are plenty of opportunities to fail. If keeping that identity becomes your priority, you run the risk of becoming driven by protective fear for a reputation or position rather than by the courage it takes to create value.
Fail Like an Entrepreneur
If you do want to make your working life about making an impact instead responding to this fear, you need to start thinking differently. You need to approach work – no matter where you are – as an entrepreneur.
Don’t work hard to create value for your employer because “you have to” or because your family and friends will be ashamed if you don’t. Do it because you’re the best person to do the work. Make a fair trade with equals for your time and labor. Use failure as feedback so you can bring more to the table. If you’re not the right person for everyone, find your product-market fit. Don’t give up in that search.
Just like a serial entrepreneur who fails once, you have so much to offer so many people now and in the long game of your career. Keep building the “product” of your time and labor, and keep getting better at selling it to the people who need it.
You may never have “CEO” by your name. You may never start a company. That’s fine. But if you feel and act with ownership over your work, you’ll be just as resilient to setbacks and ready for success as those who do.