Don’t Disown Your Failures

Dont Disown Your Failures

In 18 seasons with the NFL, I won more than I lost. But, like everyone else who plays professional football, I lost a lot. In far more years as an entrepreneur, I’ve achieved plenty of successes. Behind every one of them was a failure. Often more than one. Some of the failures were altogether mine, some involved others, but each affected me—sometimes painfully, but almost always usefully. In fact, I would not trade my failures for the world. They taught me what I needed to succeed.

In my experience, on the field, in the huddle, in the locker room, in the marketplace, in the venture capital meeting, and even at the cocktail party, almost no one is willing to talk about failure, its pain, its benefits, its inevitability. Most of us fear failure, disown it, deny it, or simply try to ignore it.

What we should be doing is talking about it, exploring it, embracing it, and squeezing out of it every priceless insight it offers.

Things are beginning to change—even if just barely. We are in the early days of a Failure Revolution, in which the business environment is finally starting to catch up to my personal embrace of failure as an opportunity to learn, improve, and win. The question for today’s entrepreneurs and business leaders is whether to join the revolution or be kicked to the curb by it.

Adapted from Fran Tarkenton’s book, The Power of Failure: Succeeding in the Age of Innovation.

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as,, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.