Finding motivation in each failure: the true challenge in innovation projects

Photo of the author: María Lucia Villegas

María Lucia Villegas


4 min read.

Imagine you have a great idea and have dedicated time and effort to its planning and implementation. At this point, you are sure that it is a million-dollar idea because it is scalable and has the potential to overcome barriers. You prepare yourself to pitch the project, and after you do, you consider it was an incredible presentation, almost your best one yet. However, your audience does not agree with you. They reject you and tell you that they are not convinced about the viability of your project and suggest you invest your time and money in other plans.

Disappointing, ¿is not it? You have two options: forget your idea and start all over again, or review, modify, iterate and keep moving forward with it. It is a decision that has to be taken more frequently than we expect when we are in an innovation process, and that is what this is all about: fast-moving decisions to improve every day.

Understanding failure as an opportunity

Dealing with failure is a learning process that only comes with life experiences, and there is no choice but to accept the situation and be prepared to lower the impact that it has on us or our projects.

First of all, it is important to have in mind that an opinion, rejection, or disapproval does not define the project nor the person behind it. It happens to the best of us, and learning to deal with these kinds of situations is essential for a productive and fulfilling working life.

Negative feedback or the feeling of frustration is a new opportunity to improve. If you feel the need to re-think the project and explore different angles, it’s perfectly natural. In this case, consider starting to explore within yourself.

To confront these situations from the inside out, it is essential to question yourself in personal aspects first. It will help clear your goals (that can seem unreachable when we experience large amounts of frustration) and take action.

The 5 components of motivation

According to Corrie LoGiudice, business strategist and start-up consultant, when finding motivation again, there are five essential aspects to have in mind:

  • Clarity.
  • Confidence.
  • Community.
  • Conditioning.
  • Consistency.

Internalizing these five aspects and evaluating them help you to lower any risks of mind-blocks. Motivation is the result of what you do in life, and if what you do does not align with your goals, it will never inspire you to be better every day.

The first aspect to consider is clarity. As important as knowing what you want to achieve is why you want it. Most of the time it is easy to make plans for the future and know what tools and resources we have to make them happen. However, it is more difficult when analyzing why we have those goals and why we want to get there.

¿Are those goals really what you want in life? ¿Are there other factors that directly affect your decisions? It is the moment to organize your priorities and primarily be honest with yourself.

Already being clear about the path that you want to take, the next step is confidence. Trust yourself and your project. Nobody else is more responsible than you to know your talents. The trust will allow you to recognize how you can overcome internal and external obstacles, make strategic alliances, and pitch your project better.

Socializing and seeking a community is a natural trait for human beings. Believe it or not, we will always need a support group, which can be your fellow workers, family, or any group of close friends. It is okay to ask for help in times of distress. Being surrounded by people that help you grow personally is fundamental when starting an innovation project and will mostly be a motivation booster if needed. Work matters are also personal sometimes.

We tend to believe that the more complex our task is, the better results we’re going to get. But this is a myth, it does not matter how hard your work is. In the end, our mental health will always affect the quality of what we deliver workwise.

Another situation is when someone gets great results at the cost of being stressed, tired, anxious, or other negative feelings, which should not be the way either. Finding a balance between productive work life and gratifying personal life help you to achieve your goals and be motivated. This will be the greatest benefit for your project.

Last but not least, consistency. Take action about what you already learned about yourself and your project, goals, and dreams only come true when we do something about it. The best entrepreneurs always have these five aspects in mind: they know that balance is the key to success.

To illustrate this, let’s talk about Tristen Walker, founder of Walker & Company Brands. He identified the problem that the razor blades that were already in the market were not suitable for all kinds of hair, so tended to break or not have the same results with afro hair. So he starts with the idea of developing an all-inclusive razor for African Americans. However, the responses and reactions he first got were not positive at all. "The product was too niche", they said.

Walker says that he was rejected 148 times before succeeding. But he was clear about what he wanted and why he wanted it. So Walker did not give up. He achieved his goals, and his company was acquired by Procter & Gamble to manage a new brand especially for African Americans. Thus, he became the first afro American CEO of the company.

In summary

We have to acknowledge rejection as a part of a learning process and embrace doubt as a motivator. Recognizing our barriers and low points is what will allow us to be open to new opportunities. Deconstructing what you think established is not a step backward. It just makes the possibilities of success higher. Especially in innovation, every step is a step forward.

In Axiacore, we believe any kind of feedback is a gift. Allows us to focus on the motivation of moving forward, developing products better than yesterday, to supply needs that emerge from each failure.

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