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How can one bounce back after failure?

As tough as it may seem, the sooner that you can take some control and accept the situation, the sooner new ideas emerge, argues Alan Manly.

"The feeling of failure is a lot like the feeling of grief. It plain hurts," says author, entrepreneur and Group Colleges Australia founder Alan Manly.

As a high school dropout who subsequently self-represented himself in - and won - a Supreme Court case, through the establishment of his successful private education business, he has experienced both success and failure in the course of his personal and professional journeys.

The basis for planning a rebound off the back of failure, he argues, is the "well-documented five stages of grief", made famous by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying – denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 

"My experience is that with an awareness that these horrible feelings have been analysed by others and are therefore not yours alone assists in accepting your fallibility both business-wise and emotionally," he explained.

"As tough as it may seem, the sooner that you can take some control and get to acceptance of the situation, the sooner new ideas emerge. It is with new ideas that the rest of your life beckons."

In speaking with Alan, I asked him if there were prescribed rules for navigating and dealing with failure, to which he responded that entrepreneurs are rule breakers.

"Survival is the rule of the jungle that entrepreneurs love to quote. Do what you need to do to survive. Rest, play or work. I prefer rest by playing with a new idea, and then make it work!"

Learning from failure, he said, is the easy part. 

"As surely as success has many fathers, failure has just as many associates called excuses. They are all there every time. What is more, there are numerous folks who will sage-like tell you their opinion of where you went wrong. Sadly they are all correct," he said.

"The lesson is to just move on as fast as you can. The same negative voices are in waiting to claim a portion of your next success."

Managing health and wellbeing in the face of such adversity, he noted, is paramount. 

"Stand in front of a mirror. If the image is of a healthy person looking pretty good, appropriate weight for age, then you are still OK. If the image looks a bit out of shape, be mindful that the vehicle you depend on to carry out your great ideas may need some serious tuning or toning as the case may be." 

And one thing that is crucial to remember, he added, is that failure can be a huge opportunity moving forward to re-evaluate your next steps and where you want to head. 

"At the end of every setback or failure, there are two undeniable gains," he posited.

"You are older and wiser. You have now isolated at least one hundred nuanced situations that you know don't work. You have also been promoted to the next stage of potential success."

"Fallibility is no longer a concept that others wonder about but a companion that will keep you more grounded than any leadership course would."

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain