Arianna Huffington was rejected by 36 publishers when she tried to publish a book. Today, she is not only a best-selling author, but also a founder and editor-in-chief in one of the most recognized online publishing empires worldwide—The Huffington Post. She was also named one of the world’s 100 most successful people by TIME Magazine.
The First Stump of Failure
Huffington, originally from Greece, moved to England in her teens when she barely spoke English. She wanted to get into Cambridge University and everybody but her mother told her she didn’t stand a chance. She then won a place to study economics and later became the president of the debating union.
She says reframing her attitude towards failure has dramatically helped her move on after her uncountable setbacks. Her story is a great inspiration that goes alongside other big success stories born from failure including the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Walt Disney.
Huffington learned earlier in life to see failure not as the opposite of success, but a “stepping-stone towards it.” Her approach, much like Thomas Edison’s, views failure as a journey to find the right way of doing things.
Persistence after Rejections
Many entrepreneurs become demoralized when their brilliant business idea does not take off as they had hoped. They tend to lose interest and consequently abandon their entrepreneurial endeavors. Huffington’s view on failure offers many valuable lessons that will help you deal with and move on from past failures to reach your big break.
Being rejected 36 times could not have been easy. With a lot of rejections, be it from investors and creditors or from the market not receiving your project well, it is easy to write off a business idea as a failure. This becomes the downfall of many startup entrepreneurs; they quickly discard a venture if it does not do well in the first or second trial, then end up going nowhere.
What you should realize is that rejection does not mean failure. Rejection could just mean you are not reaching the right market or your approach is not appropriate for that particular stakeholder. Find out why your business idea is not working and what you need to do to make it work, then do it. Study and learn from the mistakes of those in your niche, and keep improving until you find what works. Eventually, you will be successful by learning more about your target market.
Making It Comes with Many Attempts
A great lesson from Huffington and other people who built their empires from repeated failures is perseverance and determination. Many of them had to make second, third, fourth and even fiftieth attempts before they could make it. They were determined to reach their goals and focused only on that, not letting failure derail their ambitions.
Another important take from Huffington is her definition of success. Success is not only making millions or seeing your business become an empire. It is also achieving what you set out to do. You wanted to start a business, and you will. That alone is a success that many never reach, and if all else, it should tell you that you can do it. You should not dwell much on the fact that your business did not make as much money as you expected, rather on the idea that you have a business now and you must find a way to improve and get to where you want to be.
Most successful people’s greatest accomplishments come from what they learned from failure. Failing is a great learning asset. It cancels out the ‘what if’s’ you are bound to have if you do not take that step towards starting a business. It teaches you important lessons that will benefit you even in your personal life.
Failure can also prepare and make you realize other opportunities available to you. When Huffington ran for governor of California in 2003, which turned out a failure, Huffington said she learned a lot about herself. She learned how to communicate in a manner that touches people’s hearts and minds, as well as how to listen; all of which she says had a great impact in forming the Huffington Post. Through her failure, she acquired skills that put her where she is today.
Dare to Fail–Success Is a Stepping Stone Away
Lastly, one of the best lessons Huffington got from failure was knowing she can and will survive. Obviously, the first failure will always be the hardest and most painful. This process of failing however, gets easier with time. Pushing through your first failure builds character and makes you resilient. It assures you that you will make it and also helps you face future failures and setbacks easier as you grow.
In a nutshell, you should realize that failure is bound to happen eventually in business as in any other aspects of life. It is not the end of the world and it most definitely does not mean you should pack your bags and call it a day.
Start your business with a resolution and determination to move on, no matter what setbacks or failures you face along the way. Take calculated risks and dare to fail, because if you don’t, you might miss an opportunity where your success lies. Separate rejection from failure; and if you do fail, take the important lessons from it and move on.
Matt Lloyd is CEO and Founder of MOBE (My Own Business Education), an education company with over 750,000 subscribers, 165 staff and over 12,000 active affiliate partners. MOBE’s mission is to be the number 1 training resource in the world for small business owners and entrepreneurs. This is achieved through the company’s products, services, and live training events. To hear Matt Lloyd’s story, click here.
From the very beginning, my mother and father emphasized how important it was to them for me to go to college and get the best education possible. Over the years, I have found this is what most parents want for their children. Unfortunately, for some students, statistics show that this is nearly impossible.
The high school I attended reported to the New York State Education Department in 2014 only a 60 percent graduation rate among students, which is 3 percent lower than the previous year, and 16 percent lower than the statewide average graduation rate. Additionally, this district reported in 2014 to NYSED that more than 60 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged. Never has the phrase “May the odds be ever in your favor” been so real for me.
Despite these daunting statistics, I had known I wanted to go to college since sixth grade. As I mentioned, my parents were huge supporters of my dreams even though they themselves did not go to college.
During my senior year, my high school offered a program where students were able to take numerous field trips to local college campuses. I toured many of the campuses but I did not really feel a connection to any of them. The last field trip of the year was to Niagara University; I regret to admit I was reluctant to even attend because I was not very excited by what I had seen on other campuses. However, from the moment I stepped off the bus, I knew Niagara University was the college for me. The campus was beautiful, and the students and staff were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. This inspired me to finish my high school career strong in order to beat the odds, to graduate high school and attend the college of my dreams.
After high school graduation, I was faced with a new challenge: money. How could I pay for the outstanding education NU guarantees, along with books, tuition, school supplies, etc.? I come from a working class family, so at this point I truly thought my dream might be over even before it began. This is a fear for many students considering private colleges and universities. However, once I received information from Niagara University’s Financial Aid Office, I realized I should not give up just yet! I found out that more than 98 percent of Niagara’s students receive some type of financial assistance - and I was one of them!
Niagara University’s generous funding truly made obtaining my undergraduate degree possible. I would have never been able to attend such a wonderful school without that help. As much as walking the stage in May 2015 was a result of all my hard work, it was also due to the amazing support given to me by my parents and NU. I know I never would have been able to beat the odds had it not been for them.
As I begin my master’s degree program in literacy instruction (5-12), I am reminded again of how fortunate I am as I have been selected to receive the Dean’s Scholarship in the College of Education at Niagara University.