Feeling defeated or discouraged? Winston Churchill can help

- January 16, 2016 3 MIN READ

Business success is rarely continuous and we all have days where we are feeling defeated and like complete failures and wonder if it is all worth it. Let Winston Churchill help reframe your thoughts about failure.

Winston Churchill was the man who was Prime Minister twice, (most importantly during World War II), showing great resilience, leadership, purpose and strength of character. He came to be a symbol of steadiness and strength for the population while enjoying a few eccentricities, which endeared him to a nation while PM and long after.

The thing I admired most about Churchill was the fact that he was a great orator and left behind many amazing quotes that inspire many people from all walks of life to this day.

Here are some of my favourites and how I apply them to my business today:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Succinct and to the point -I wish we could all get a message across so simply. We will have many ups and downs in business. Success will drive us forward to more success, but just as success does this, so must failure. Failing is not the end of the world. The man who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner made about 500 prototypes before he made the one that became his signature cleaner.

“Success comes from going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

I use the word failure here in the generic sense, and also in the sense of how we perceive ourselves. There will be many times we are discouraged and disappointed with ourselves and consequently feel like failures, even though no-one else would perceive us that way. It is how we deal with that which determines whether or not we succeed – don’t let today’s disappointment cast a shadow over tomorrow’s dream.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”

How you approach your work, your life and even relationships can impact the result. Accentuating the positive and having the right attitude, even in difficult circumstances is important to your success. Your attitude is all the more important if you have staff because those you lead will take their cues from you. If you have a negative outlook, whether temporary or permanent, this will affect your clients and your team, and therefore, your bottom line. If you are going through a tough time, think carefully about how you convey that to others.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”

I love this one. Sometimes, the most courageous thing you can do is to take on board constructive or negative feedback and not argue the toss about whether it is right or wrong. Effective listening when someone is speaking is hard – our natural instinct is to fight back when we feel threatened, and being told you have done something wrong or that your product is not up to scratch is perceived as a threat by our brains which goes into fight or flight mode. Learn to quiet those responses and listen to what is being said. Even if you don’t think it is right, deal with the perception. Success can come from taking on board feedback.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”

Keep at it – your business success is a marathon not a sprint. Applying yourself consistently to your work and setting goals on a regular basis will get you further than just being clever.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Philanthropy is a great thing. We are not all in a position to be giving money away but think about this – when you reach a point when you can mentor someone starting out in business, do it. Mentoring brings great rewards for both parties. There is something intrinsically satisfying seeing someone you have mentored succeed. We can also give thanks – to clients, referrers and staff. Gratitude is a very under-rated virtue, and particularly when feeling low, being thankful and expressing it makes a big difference to your thoughts.

When I started my business I was overwhelmed by the many people who were willing to give me advice and more importantly, their time. I will never forget it, and will always ‘pay it forward’. My fear of failure was at extreme levels, and hearing others talk honestly about their struggles, failures and how they overcame them was incredibly inspiring.

“If you are going through hell, keep going”

“I’m going through hell” or words to that effect have been uttered by many people when they experience disappointment, failure, a downturn or a confluence of events. Churchill once famously brought this into perspective – if you are going through hell, for goodness’ sake don’t stop – keep going and get yourself out!

Finally, I will leave you with my favourite Winston Churchill quote, which speaks for itself:

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Do you have a favourite Churchill quote? Or quote, period?

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"