The Art of Being Wrong
Diana Franco, WE NYC Mentor

Being wrong

Success is not about everything you do right. It’s about learning fast when everything goes wrong. Usually, when we see an enterprise succeed, we focus on all the markers of success —  sales, performance, product development — but we don’t take a deeper look at what’s required to get there.

The truth is, we may not be willing to do what it takes to get there.

Why? Because we have been taught how to deal with success but not how to deal with failure.  We look at failure as a sign of decay instead of as the best compost for our business soil.

The way we process difficulties is what moves us forward. Yet we often attribute success to luck and blame ourselves for failure, when in reality everything is part of the learning experience and is equally important to us achieving our goals. The difference between failure as business-ending and as a crucial precursor to growth can be a matter of interpretation.

Why do we take failure personally? Is it because we are constantly looking for approval? We need to learn to incorporate failure into the process of success. Otherwise, we’ll remain trapped.

We can look at entrepreneurship as a game with levels. As soon as we complete the learning experience on one level, we’re ready to move on to the next. Gamers don’t feel ashamed of striving to improve and reach the next level. Entrepreneurs, too, should overcome the shame of being wrong, because being wrong is a step along the journey to being right.

Let go of shame about making mistakes. Use mistakes to change faster and build your business.

Diana Franco

Embrace the unknown

Part of overcoming fear of being wrong is learning to feel comfortable with the unknown. To be in a position to try new things, we need to accept that we don’t need to know everything. Instead, we need to seek answers and trust in our experiences.

Multiple studies have found that, as compared to men, women hold themselves to a higher threshold of certainty before they offer an opinion or solution. They are much more likely to think they don’t know the answer to a question on a quiz or poll. If the “I don’t know” option is taken away and women are forced to respond, they perform just as well as their male counterparts.

Embrace the unknown. After all, as an entrepreneur you are here to bring something new to the world, and new by definition is unknown.

How can you best prepare for these learning experiences?

  1. Research, prepare and go with the flow. While you can’t control everything, your level of preparation is one thing that is under your control. Do your homework. For the circumstances you can’t control, go with the flow. You may end up in a place that teaches you something important!
  2. Honor the struggle. Let go of shame about making mistakes. Use mistakes to change faster and build your business. Remember, everything and everyone around you is your teacher. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Don’t accept or reject the struggle; learn from it and move forward.
  3. Surround your business with the right people. You don’t need to know everything, but you do need to have the right partners. The fact is that we don’t know everything. As entrepreneurs, we often see only one side of the coin. A great way to be one step ahead of the game is to surround yourself and your business with the right people, even those who have radically different skills and views than yours. This will broaden your understanding and help you avoid mistakes or recover faster if you do make an error.

There will never be a perfect moment to launch your business. Don’t delude yourself into thinking everything should be flawless before you go to market. That’s just an excuse to stay stuck. Instead, learn fast and respect yourself, your intelligence and your competence. If you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you. Your business starts with you.