How Lessons of Failure Lead to New Beginnings

By Amanda Lewan on January 10th, 2016 / Comments

Jonathan Williams learned a tough lesson at a young age, one he’s grateful for now.

At twenty two he moved out to sunny California where he started an electrical contracting company.

“I was young and inexperienced. I had a few really good years and thought I was an amazing businessman,” he said looking back.

At the time property values were skyrocketing and sales were always looking up for the young entrepreneur. When the recession hit, he quickly learned a few lessons the hard way. Jonathan lost everything in the short span of six months. Stuck in bad contracts and with little savings he had no choice but to close down the business.  Not only did he suffer financially, but he injured his back and found himself in poor heath unable to work.

Jonathan FL1
Co-founder of Failure:Lab Jonathan Williams

“I had this narrative in my head that I had failed at everything, more than just business,” he said. “I think the hardest thing of failure is feeling alone and ashamed.”

Jonathan found these feelings were universal. He was able to move back to Michigan where with support from friends and family he was able to heal and work again. Now Co-founder of Failure:Lab, along with two other partners Jordan O’Neil & Austin Dean, he’s working on growing a company around lessons learned from failure.

The company has created a model similar to the popular international series TEDx, hosting events around the world and building a community of fans.

For entrepreneurs, the lessons learned can fuel a stronger re-birth, like it did for Jonathan. He now sees these lessons everyday in his work.

How Do We Recover from Failure? Attitude and Accepting Change. 

“The big difference from those who fail and quit and fail and get back up is attitude,” he said. “You need the attitude to keep going, to ask for help.”

Another big takeaway his team has seen is how people learn or don’t learn to adapt to the change forced in front of them. Failure isn’t just a hard time that shows you the way forward. It requires personal changes in order to keep going.

“For some people they keep repeating the same patterns. For me, I could have recovered back in California but I realized I wanted something different in my life. Failure helped me move to Michigan and re-connect with community,” he said. “That’s really transformed me in ways I couldn’t know then.”

We’re excited for the next Failure:lab event in Detroit this week on Thursday, January 18th. Come join us by RSVPing today. 

Have an entrepreneurial lesson to share? We’re always looking for new stories and contributors. Contact us here.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.