The 2018 Winter Olympics are almost upon us, and as an avid skier, I like to look back at all the times my favorite Olympians have faced career shifting hurdles and unfavorable outcomes, and how those experiences have gotten them to where they are today. Olympic Alpine Ski Racing gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn, said it best in an interview with PopSugar in 2014 after her infamous knee injury: "Even if you have setbacks and you have bad days, you have to believe in yourself that things are going to turn around."

Whether you're an Olympian, a successful business owner, or an aspiring entrepreneur, all of these people have something in common. They didn't get where they are today by getting everything right the first time. They probably faced many failures and setbacks on their journeys that have helped them get to where they are today.

It's not a matter of if you'll face failure, it's a matter of when and what you take away from that failure that will push you forward.

Here are the three most common types of failure that people experience, and the lessons you can learn from these setbacks to motivate you to achieve success in business and in life:

1. Overconfidence

Being confident is often seen as a strong personality trait in business, and in any sport. However, it can often be a double-edged sword.

Most of our favorite athletes have been caught up in overconfident behavior that caused them some trouble. Remember the infamous cell phone celebration by NFL wide receiver Joe Horn after a touchdown? That overconfident, cocky act got him a nice $30,000 fine.


Being too confident is, in fact, a thing. Overconfidence can often lead to failure and is the very reason why many bull-headed entrepreneurs miss a chance at success.

From a young age, we're taught that confidence and success are often correlated. In order to succeed, this is a hurdle that we need to overcome -- or else we may face defeat.

Determination and overconfidence are not the same thing. You can have strong determination while staying humble along the way.

When starting a business, you need to identify obstacles in your path and risks that you might face and figure out how to nail each down one at a time. Overconfidence leads you to think that you're right 100 percent of the time to the point where you don't listen to advice for anyone else.

2. Failed Relationships

It's extremely easy to rely too much on yourself in entrepreneurship. But many businesses fail due to the lack of team.

You cannot do everything on your own. You'll become overworked and the outcome can lead to the failure of your business. This works the same way for athletes. The Olympic Training Center, which is located only a few hours away from my office, reminds me that even the best athletes have a massive training team to push them to be their best selves.

No business can succeed without teamwork. Just because you came up with the idea, does not mean you're going to be the best person to handle the finances, manage customers and market your products. Realizing you are not a one man band will help you delegate to suit your team's talent.  

All businesses run on relationships. But with all relationships, we can and will make mistakes somewhere down the line.

Failed relationships in business come with a high price, resulting in wasted training, partnerships and investments. These are things that happen in any business or industry.

You can't entirely avoid bad business relationships or bad hires, but you can improve the odds of avoiding these relationships by learning from your past bad relationships. Look at the positive and negative indicators you should have looked out for in the last failed relationship, and know what raises red flags.

3. Pivot Paralysis

When starting a business, entrepreneurs often face paralysis when it comes to having to pivot their business plan. Failure often comes from not being able to adapt to events or conditions that they were not expecting in their paths.

Something similar happened to Yvon Chouinard, the creator of Patagonia. He started making climbing pitons (the anchor you hammer into the wall to save your life) and eventually pivoted his efforts to outdoor clothing after many of his friends were envious of his flashy colored, handmade clothing. Climbing pitons are now a rare commodity in the climbing world, but Chouinard was lucky to pivot Patagonia to focus on clothing that has stood the test of time.

This paralysis causes many to panic and give up because they cannot rethink their strategy. Eric Ries, entrepreneur, author and pioneer of the lean startup movement, told Inc. back in 2011 that "through pivots, we can build companies where the failure of the initial idea isn't the failure of the company."

Once you realize a pivot isn't the end for you or your business, you can successfully refocus and develop an idea that is much more successful than the first.

Published on: Jan 26, 2018