“And because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.”
~ Acts 18:3 (NIV)
The free enterprise system enables all of us to pursue our own self-interests by using our God-given skills and talents to the benefit of our society. An important, and often overlooked, component of freedom is the freedom to fail. That is right…the freedom to fail is one of the most important aspects of free enterprise. Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times in developing the light bulb. Henry Ford failed and entered bankruptcy five times before he was finally successful with Ford Motor Company. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York City finally succeeded. Failure is only a futile process when one does not learn from his or her failure. In fact, failure can eventually result in better products, more efficient operations, and more successful firms in general. Failure provides a manager or leader an opportunity to rethink his or her business venture. It motivates one to think about how to revolutionize a business or operation for success.
Two of the more famous people who used failure as a tool for growth were Walt Disney and Oprah Winfrey. Early in his career, Walt Disney was fired by his editor because “he lacked imagination and had no original ideas.” After he was fired, he failed as an entrepreneur as his first animation company ended up in bankruptcy. But years later, he founded the very successful Disney Corporation, which is a 50 billion-dollar company today. Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her evening anchor role at a Baltimore television station to a morning role with far less viewership. Disappointed, but still motivated for success, Oprah used her morning program experience as a learning opportunity to eventually launch her very successful programming business.
Failure is a negative aspect of business only when one fails to learn from it. Learning from failure often fuels the passion and path for future success.