“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
– Scott Adams
If we take a look at the antonyms of the word “failure” in the dictionary, we surely would find “lack of success,” “the opposite of success,” or “collapse” without realizing that “failure” could actually mean the “stepping stone to success.” It’s the same idea with success and failure in entrepreneurship. Most successful entrepreneurs experienced failures at some point in their lives.
Let me tell you the story of Dr. Lonnie Johnson and how his tenacity made him successful. Dr. Johnson is best known for his invention of The Super Soaker water gun, which nowadays is already more than a billion dollar business. When he made that plastic water gun, he never knew it would turn out to be something spectacular. Thinking it would create an enjoyable impact on social gatherings and picnics after trying it to an Air Force picnic one day, he then planned to manufacture the gun himself. He went to a factory but he was told he would need to shell out $200,000 to mass produce 1,000 guns, but he didn’t have that much money. And so he decided to partner with a toy company to carry out his plan. However, this idea didn’t perfectly work fine. For seven years he never experienced success, but his mind and spirit never gave up.
One day in February 1989, he went to the world’s largest toy fair, the American International Toy Fair, in New York where he met the company known as Larami. This was where his perseverance and tenacity started to bear fruit. When he presented his prototype to Larami’s head, he was overwhelmed with the idea. The Super Soaker was then born and commercialized, but it was initially called the Power Drencher. Dr. Johnson’s invention became a big hit on the market selling 20 million water guns. However, in 1992, the product became controversial due to the way it was used and abused by the buyers. But it was still faring well in the market. He used the revenues he got to build a scientific facility in Atlanta, Georgia. For over 20 years he has been interested in battery technology and so he developed batteries out of the money he acquired from his first business venture. He reiterated that in order to succeed in whatever venture we are in, we just need to instill in our minds what we’re capable of doing.
Now, I came across this book by Scott Adams entitled “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.” This book describes Adams’ tenacity despite the many hardships he encountered in his career and life. It also showcases the techniques he has used since college on how he took advantage of his failures to raise his market value. He strongly believes that failure is a friend and that it is the “raw material to success.” He says, “Failure is where success likes to hide in plain sight.” In order for people to be successful, he advises that they should figure out the price and pay for it. It means people need to have the will to pursue their wishes even if it means sacrificing their personal life or the future of their business.
Meanwhile, let’s explore the ordeals of Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs before he became known in the world of technology and innovation. He made several mistakes before achieving perfection and these can be seen through his creation of the NeXtCube, the Lisa, the Mac Cube, and even the original Mac. However, because of his tenacity and deep understanding of how the computer industry behaves, he was able to keep his pace on top of the game. Jobs and his team of engineers redeveloped the once failed NeXtStep operating system into OS X and recreated the iMac into something consumers could not dare resist to buy. He introduced the DVD technology in all of the top-line Macs to differentiate them from personal computers. But, this proved to be a failure because it didn’t have so much appeal to consumers. He found out that consumers wanted a gadget that would enable them to save their own files, photos and songs into a compact disc. This was the reason why he installed drives that could store data on the gadget and this move has been successful. Apple now is already a market leader in technology and innovation because it has lived up to the forever changing industry and expectations of the people.
Not anyone in the field of business can predict the success or failure of a venture. If we have the tenacity to rise in the midst of every failure, the road to success is always just around the corner. We should never give up if we meet negative outcomes early on in our struggle to reach success. We may come a long way to achieve what we’ve been wishing for but we should not be discouraged when things don’t come out the way we want them to be. The road to success might be long and bumpy but what matters most are the lessons we learn as we strive to succeed.
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