(Originally written in 2018. Updated for 2020.)
Recently, I launched a product that had far fewer sales than expected… barely any buyers.
My first reaction was to get discouraged and slightly depressed. In earlier years, I would’ve been tempted to quit.
Some might be surprised to read that a business/marketing “expert” like me would experience failures anymore.
In truth, the most experienced professionals usually have more “failures” than anyone else. They’ve learned more than others in their field because they are willing to keep trying new things, keep failing if need be, and keep extracting the lessons from “failures”. Trying again and again, they get a little more knowledgeable with each experiment.
The highly respected marketing expert Seth Godin says:
“The rule is simple: The person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win…. So, if you fail cataclysmically and never play again, you only fail once. But if you are always out there putting your work into the world, creating and starting things, you will learn endless things. You will learn to see more accurately, you will learn the difference between a good idea and a bad idea and, most of all, you will keep producing.”
While I was in my state of discouragement, I asked myself:
“What would I say to a client who was experiencing this… and what therefore should I do to also recover?”
The word that came to me:
Intentional deep breathing is always a good reminder! However, I also got curious what else it could mean. In the next few days, what formed was BREATHE as an acronym for resilience, bouncing back from setbacks.
It’s important to have a recovery process quickly available to you when you start to get discouraged. The next time you encounter a discouraging mistake or failure, try the following BREATHE method. (You may want to bookmark this page to come back easily.)
B = Breathe
Take a few gentle, deep breaths.
Get some oxygen into your body and brain. You’ll feel a bit better right away.
Such a simple practice, but one that can really change the direction of your day.
R = Rest
When feeling discouraged, take a pause, rather than push.
Take a nap if you can.
Or even rest for 3 minutes, with eyes closed, continuing to take gentle, deep breaths.
After resting, reboot your energy. I’ve written about my own Energy Reboot Process.
E = Extract the good
After you have rested a bit, ask yourself:
“What did I do well?”
No failure is ever 100%. Even in a so-called “failed” experience there was something you did well. Look for it. Name it. Don’t take it for granted.
And is there any other good you can extract from this failure experience? What can you be grateful for?
When I was feeling discouraged from my failed launch, I thought about the many people in my audience who also encounter discouraging launches in trying to build their business. If I only have success, I won’t be able to relate to my clients and students. I’m grateful to be reminded of this perspective.
In your case, what good can you extract from your failure experience?
A = Ask for guidance
If you believe that divine or higher guidance is available to you always, then ask in the way you know best: pray, journal, meditate, dance, go for a walk, etc.
Also consider asking for help from a trusted advisor, someone you can quickly reach out to from among your friends, family, colleagues, coaches, groups.
Simply message them and say “I’m feeling discouraged… can I seek some guidance from you?”
You may want to message more than one person, to get additional encouragement and advice.
T = Trust
Come back to your deep knowing that all will work out beautifully for you.
Trust in the process of Life’s unfolding. It will work out for the highest good of you and everyone else.
Give thanks for that wonderful Truth.
H = Help someone
Go and be helpful.
No matter how you do it, go and be helpful to someone. Get outside of your own problems. You’ll find a truer perspective.
E = Experiment
By taking the above actions, you’ll recover your energy and perspective once again.
Now, it is time to get out there and experiment some more.
We enjoy successes, but we can learn the most from failure, and develop in the most important ways: inner strength and wisdom.
If you aren’t failing, you probably aren’t trying enough new things to uncover your true potential.
So go for it: experiment with the next step, create the next thing, announce the next launch.
Know that no matter what, you can always come back and BREATHE.
No matter what, know that you can always recover your perspective and joy!
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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