Henry Ford, the American industrialist who is credited with developing mass production through the assembly line, actually failed at his first startup despite doing a lot of things right.
Before he stepped down as Chief Engineer at Edison Illuminating Company to launch the Detroit Automobile Company, Ford asked his superior, Thomas Edison (yes, that Thomas Edison) for feedback on his new engine design for a self-propelled vehicle.
Armed with Edison's favorable assessment of his technology, Ford also secured early funding from a local lumber baron. But the vehicles his new company produced were too expensive for the low quality, and within a short time, Detroit Automobile Company failed.
Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right."
It is easy, even seductive, to believe that the success of others came easy, but it is one of the most dangerous lies we can tell ourselves, because it causes us to doubt our own journey when we encounter barriers.
When we see our own setbacks as a sign of inadequacy and believe the lie that others who are confident and successful didn't have to struggle as hard as we do, we are being both naive and dangerous.
The confidence we see in others isn't a result of wealth, lifestyle or other perks; their confidence comes from having hit bottom and figuring out how to survive and move forward.
Some of us may start out with certain abilities that make entrepreneurship easier, but none of us start out with the confidence. Confidence is the result of persistence through experiences, learning about ourselves and how we overcome outside and inner obstacles.
When we face rejection, it's so tempting to believe that the feedback of another is more valid than our own, and we can let the winds of opinion and disappointment buffet us like a rowboat in a hurricane - constantly changing our mission, goals and roadmap to please someone who has already said no.
As entrepreneurs, the only valid feedback that we should be paying attention to is sales and whether our customers like what we are doing. We have to be okay with hearing no and understanding that rejection is a part of the process.
It's easy to feel helpless and hopeless when things go wrong, especially if whatever fell through looked like the perfect big break that would solve all of our problems. It is so tempting put everything on hold while we wait for the big break to happen.
The reality is that there is no big break - there is just one step and then another and then another - focusing on the work that we know to do, trying different tactics to see what gets traction and what doesn't.
When we dig deep and find the discipline to focus and not get distracted by whatever is shiny and new and exciting, that is what moves us forwards towards those big breaks that we thought might somehow allow us to leapfrog over all the hard stuff to arrive at success.
Oh, and back to Henry Ford.
After he closed down his first failed company, Ford cobbled together a few co-founders and investors to launch the The Henry Ford Company, but it didn't take long into the new venture for him to determine that the direction of the company was not in keeping with his internal roadmap. (After he left, the remaining group decided on a new name, the Cadillac Automobile Company).
His third startup with yet a new partner also failed due to lack of revenue. But the core of the company and team were right this time, so instead of closing up shop, the company was restructured to become the Ford Motor Company, the startup that Henry Ford got right enough for it to still be in existence well over 100 years later.