Bouncing Back From Broken Dreams: What Happens After Your First Failure

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Bouncing Back From Broken Dreams: What Happens After Your First Failure

You aren’t cut out for this. It’s too hard. Only lucky people find success. Not smart enough. Not savvy enough. Not rich enough. 

I remember telling myself all those things as my first business ideas were shot down or crashed spectacularly. 

But I’m here to let you in on a little secret – they’re lies. 

Being an entrepreneur isn’t about success. It’s about failure. It’s about finding a way past the broken dream (and the debt), and trying something else. It’s about recognizing your mistakes and not making them again. 

Not every CEO is going to admit that. Some want to pretend they rose right to the top without making a single bad decision. But not Aaron Marino, who you may know better as Alpha M, the style guru that influences millions of men worldwide every day. 

When I sat down with Aaron for the Success Story Podcast, I kind of expected a rehearsed retelling of how his brilliant marketing mind and unwavering work ethic made him destined for greatness. But he wasn’t like that at all.

Instead, he told me about the many brutal, terrible turns he made at the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey and how the dream he had since he was 12 proved unattainable. He was in his 30s when he finally let go of what he wanted for his whole life. 

The real lessons to take from Aaron – and any other honest entrepreneur – are what came next. 

Letting Go of Your Dream

You might think that giving up on your lifelong dream is the end of the road, but in reality, it's just the beginning of a new chapter. When you let go of what you thought you wanted, you open yourself up to a world of new possibilities.

Aaron's story is a testament to the power of letting go. As a young entrepreneur, he was fixated on achieving his childhood dream. He would’ve, as he put it, “sold a kidney” to keep his fitness center open.

But it wasn't until he realized that the path he was on wouldn't lead him to success that he could finally pivot and find a new direction.

Be Like Water

It's important to remember that dreams, like life, are fluid. They can change and evolve as we grow and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. So, when it becomes clear your original goal isn't working, don't be afraid to let it go. It doesn't make you a failure; it makes you adaptable and resilient.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river, and he's not the same man.” – Heraclitus

Acknowledge the emotions that come with letting go of your dream – the disappointment, the heartache, the embarrassment, and sense of loss. It's okay to mourn what might have been but don't let that grief hold you back from exploring new opportunities. 

Remember, no experience is ever wasted. Every failure and setback teaches valuable lessons to apply to our next venture.

So, how do you let go of your dream and move forward? Start by taking a step back and asking yourself some critical questions:

  • Why did I want this dream in the first place? 

  • What was the driving force behind it?

  • What did I learn from my failures and setbacks? 

  • What new opportunities have presented themselves since I started pursuing my original dream?

Letting go of your dream doesn't mean giving up on success.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Emotional scarring is real. It’s natural to be afraid to try again after you fail. But no entrepreneur's journey is free from setbacks, and learning to overcome the fear of failure is crucial to finding success in the long run. 

Dealing with Embarrassment

Let's face it. Failure can be downright embarrassing. 

But it's essential to remember that everyone experiences setbacks, and there's no shame in admitting that something didn't work out. Embrace the vulnerability that comes with failure and use it as an opportunity to grow and learn. 

The more comfortable you become with mistakes, the less power they will have over you.

Disregarding Nay-Sayers

There will always be people who doubt your abilities or try to discourage you from pursuing the next idea. Learn how to tune out these nay-sayers and stay focused on your goals. 

Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, and fellow entrepreneurs who believe in your vision and can offer encouragement when things get tough. Don't let the opinions of others define your self-worth or your potential for success.

Finding New Opportunities in the Aftermath

When one door closes, another often opens. 

Failure can be a blessing in disguise, leading you to new opportunities you might not have discovered otherwise. Stay open to these possibilities and actively seek them out. 

Network, attend industry events, and keep your eyes peeled for potential collaborations or innovative ideas that could be your next big break.

Reevaluating Ideas and Applications

Sometimes, the key to bouncing back from failure is looking closer at your ideas and their applications to determine where things went wrong.

Dissection and Discovery

When reevaluating your ideas, it's essential to break them down into their core components and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself:

  • What aspects of my concept were successful or well-received?

  • What parts didn't work or led to failure?

  • Can any elements that can be salvaged or repurposed for a new venture?

By dissecting your ideas this way, you can identify valuable lessons and discover new opportunities that might have gone unnoticed.

Stop Chasing Trends

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, it's easy to get caught up in the latest trends or try to replicate the success of others.

It worked for them – why can’t it work for me?

This approach often leads to short-lived success or, worse, failure. Instead of chasing trends, focus on creating a product or service that genuinely addresses a need or solves a problem. By doing so, you'll be more likely to achieve lasting success.

Be Yourself

One of the most critical aspects of entrepreneurship is authenticity. Embrace your unique strengths, experiences, and perspective, and infuse them into your ideas and ventures. 

By being true to yourself, you'll not only create a more genuine connection with your audience, but you'll also stand out from the competition.

Building a Personal Brand

Aaron's journey highlights the importance of building a strong personal brand as an entrepreneur. He recognized that relying solely on numbers and business strategies wasn't enough; he needed to be the face of his brand and connect with his audience on a personal level.

Here are some tips for building a personal brand and how they can open doors for diversification and growth.

Ask Questions and Learn from Others

Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance from those in your shoes. By staying curious and open-minded, you'll gain valuable insights and knowledge to help you shape your brand and grow your business.

Tell Authentic Stories

Share your journey, struggles, and successes with your audience. Being transparent and genuine will create a deeper connection with your audience and establishes trust.

Authentic storytelling is a powerful tool to help you stand out in a crowded market.

Building a Supportive Tribe

You can’t do this alone. Everyone needs a support system, and there are ways to help strengthen it, even if it seems like no one is there to help. 

1. Networking and Collaboration

Cultivate relationships with other entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and potential partners. Collaborating and sharing ideas can lead to new opportunities and help you expand your brand's reach.

2. The Value of "Competition”

Rather than viewing your competitors as a threat, embrace the opportunity to learn from them and form mutually beneficial relationships. Competitors can become valuable resources and even allies in your journey.

Staying Connected for Potential Help

Maintain strong connections with your network, as you never know when you might need assistance or advice. A robust support system can be invaluable in overcoming obstacles and finding new opportunities.

Embracing Slow, Steady Growth

You don’t need a $20 million exit 18 months into the journey. 

While it's tempting to chase after rapid success, there's value in slow, steady growth. Focus on building your brand and business one step at a time, ensuring a solid foundation for long-term success.

And hey, you’ll probably make some money along the way!

Balancing Product Quality with Audience Building

While creating a high-quality product or service is essential, pay attention to building an audience. Engage with your community, listen to their needs, and adapt your offerings accordingly. A strong personal brand, combined with a loyal audience, can lead to lasting success.

Understanding the Role of Influencers

Influencers can be valuable allies in promoting your brand and reaching a broader audience, but they shouldn't be your sole marketing strategy. 

Focus on building value and connecting directly with your audience to create a lasting impact.

Final thoughts

Not all dreams come true. Breathe, reflect, and start again. 

The entrepreneurial journey is full of ups and downs, but it's important to remember that every failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover new possibilities.

Embrace the challenges, let go of unattainable dreams, and keep moving forward with an open mind and a resilient spirit.

If you want more inspiration and insights from successful entrepreneurs, check out the Success Story YouTube channel. There, you'll find hundreds of interviews with CEOs, thought leaders, and other accomplished individuals who share their stories, advice, and wisdom to help you on your path to success.

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