Embracing failure is such a powerful concept. How often do we find ourselves hesitating to do something outside of our comfort zone for fear of failure? I love this quote from Jenny Blake’s book Pivot: “How can something be a failure if it is a critical building block of your growth?” I have certainly found this to be true the last two and a half years since becoming an entrepreneur and business owner. I have found that every time I “fail” or experience a rejection, there is something to be learned from that experience.
When I first moved to Nashville to start my own business, I was terrified. I was also excited, but fear, and especially fear of failure, was a major factor at that stage. So much so that while I laid the foundation for my business and got all the necessary pieces into place, I was constantly searching for a backup option. I was just applying for things out of fear – that my business wasn’t going to work, that I was going to fail, and maybe even as an excuse to not give my business my all. During that time, there were things that I applied for, interviewed for, and didn’t get. Some of those rejections were so upsetting even when I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted! It was such a stressful time. Eventually, I had to shut down the fear, embrace failure and focus solely on building my business. Once I did that, I found that opportunities actually began coming to me that were more aligned with my business and my interests. Then, I was so thankful that some of those other things hadn’t worked out so that I had the space and ability to say “yes!” to these opportunities.
Even now, over two and a half years into my business, I have to remind myself that not everything I do or try to do is going to be a success. And that is ok. I now embrace these “failures”, look for the lessons in them, and use them to restructure for future ideas. For example, last year, I tried to launch an in-person group program. While I had a lot of interest, I did not get enough people to sign up for the program and so I had to cancel. I was disappointed and went through a moment (or several) of feeling like a failure and wanting to give up. But then I thought about it some more, discussed it with some trusted friends and colleagues, and decided that there were things I could do better. This was the first time I had tried to do something like this and it was a learning experience. I have now restructured the idea and plan to try again in the future.
I think some of my greatest struggles as a nutrition entrepreneur are centered around fear. Fear of failure, of not being good enough, of comparing myself to others who appear to be further ahead than I am. I have to remind myself to embrace the failures and to view them not as a reason to stop or give up, but as learning opportunities that are necessary for growth and future successes.
Jill Merkel, MS, RD, CSSD is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Nutrition for Endurance, a nutrition coaching and consulting practice in Nashville, TN. She provides nutrition coaching for athletes and active individuals looking to improve their athletic performance; and she works with women who are struggling with body image, diet culture, and disordered eating. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, and traveling. Follow Jill on Instagram @JillMerkelRD
*photo by @kristensheftphotography