Don’t you remember on earth—there were things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right? Shame is like that. If you will accept it—if you will drink the cup to the bottom—you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds. – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
One of the reasons I am not currently an entrepreneur is that I have failed at business in the past, and I have not fully come to grips with that failure. I have succeeded, too, but failure stung me hard.
This isn’t all bad – one of the immediate lessons of failure is that there are consequences to our actions. In my last business failures, I took on more risk than I should have for my life circumstances. Lesson learned. I wish I could have learned that the easy way, but I didn’t.
I’m very good at absorbing abstract knowledge. I’ve been learning everything I can about business and startups over the last five years, and I even just started writing a Startup 101 column in Visual Studio Magazine to help other programmers learn about basic startup stuff.
But failure isn’t abstract – it’s very concrete. It’s messy. It’s emotional. I really hate failing, but you can’t succeed at something great if you aren’t willing to risk failure. And I suspect that it’s difficult to move forward – to truly learn from failure – unless you drink it down to get all the nourishment you can from it.
It’s time to do that work …