I failed miserably. Only six months into launching my second studio location, I was forced to admit defeat.

I struggled to hit every curve ball that came my way. Initially, yoga bolsters were stolen, classes were empty, my managers begged me to close and then my landlord requested to share the studio space with us.

I internalized my defeat as a personal defect and in my vulnerability, I hid my failure from everyone. I did not want to be judged, laughed at or become another cautionary tale. But what I’ve learned over time is that acknowledging defeat allows us to transcend shame and focus on the steps that can lead to success. Changing your relationship with failure can change your life. 

Honor your failures, mistakes and naivety. 

It’s so much easier to celebrate our wins than our failures. It’s time we appreciate the steps in between each win. The missteps along our path often make us feel vulnerable, but mistakes are simply growing pains. Reaching success is a series of stepping-stones, and some of those steps are marred by imperfection. Assembling a trusted ‘study group’ of peers to unpack missteps can help gain clarity. Every failure is an opportunity to re-evaluate your current position with the help of others and chart your course forward.  

Find the silver linings to fuel progress. 

Shame and fear have the power to cloud our judgment, so it’s critical to step off the emotion-coaster quickly. For me, the story was in the data. By utilizing software to pull reports, read through individual teacher reviews, and crunch the numbers, it only took moments to spot our silver lining: aerial yoga. Within a week, we rebranded our second location as a satellite aerial studio and soon after the location bounced back. Remember, emotions can easily hijack your line of sight, but you don’t have to let them.  

Nurture resilience within yourself and your team. 

For most small businesses, being competitive requires a team that can metabolize defeat quickly. Get serious about building resiliency by devising strong interview questions, and creating mentorship roles and opportunities for staff to thrive. One of my biggest failures was placing inexperienced leaders in leadership positions. Fit is everything. Instead, place people with the ability to navigate mistakes at the top of your organization. These team members become the immune system of your business by naturally setting the tone within the environment and modeling a healthy relationship with failure.  

Use failure to propel forward. 

Problems and mistakes are just opportunities for personal evolution. When we hold space for missteps, we open the door to possibility. Recently, one of my support staff allowed a student to leave their child in reception while the student entered class. I embraced this mistake and chose to get inspired to build a youth class to coincide with adult classes, opening our programs to a new group.

Success is really about getting curious enough to think, “What is my next step here?” As a business owner, you must lean into everyone’s mistakes to propel your team and business forward while inspiring others to do the same along the way.  

Owning defeat is uncomfortable and shifting your relationship with failure to positivity will not happen overnight. However, living with a stepping-stone mentality is your best bet to take small steps every day toward a new outlook.