How 3 people turned failure to success with a ‘Growth Mindset’

If you look at people who are often regarded as being a success in their chosen field you will find most of them have failed, often many times, on their way to success. However, they have embraced failure because of the type of mind-set they have. This mindset can best be explained through the work of Carol Dweck (check out her amazing TED talk HERE) who has completed decades of research into what influences our ability to succeed.

This is an interesting use of the word ‘ability’ here.  What her research proves is that it’s not your ability that determines your success.  It’s your beliefs about your ability.

Her studies found that people who have a ‘Growth Mindset’ as opposed to a‘Fixed Mindset’ were more likely to improve their abilities in the tasks they were given; particularly in those activities they found challenging.

People with a Growth mindset keep trying, even if they don’t achieve what they want at first. They keep going because they believe their ability, intelligence and personality are things that can keep improving.

When you adopt this mindset the concept of failure becomes irrelevant, or at least the definition of it changes. For someone with a growth mindset, not succeeding in a task is seen as an opportunity to learn and adapt, not as a finite result of their ability to succeed or fail.

Here are my top 3 female entrepreneurs who have a Growth Mindset and have successfully embraced failure:

Hilary_Devey2Hilary Devey

Hilary – famous for her time on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den is CEO and Chairman of Pall-Ex, the UK’s leading palletised freight distribution network. Through Pall-Ex Hilary significantly transformed the freight distribution industry. She has also won numerous awards, including being honoured with a CBE in 2013.

Hilary has faced many failures, which would have made most of us give up. When she came up with her innovative idea for transporting palletised freight no bank would back her. This could have put an end to things but, instead of seeing this as a failure, she found another way by selling her house and her car to finance it.

It wasn’t all plain sailing from there. In her company’s first year she couldn’t pay herself a salary and couldn’t even afford a Christmas dinner for herself and her son. Now, for most of us, if we had sold our house and car and then couldn’t buy Christmas dinner for our children it would have been the point we gave up the dream and went and found a ‘proper‘ job. Not Hilary. She persisted and managed to turn things around.

 Hilary’s top tip:  

If you really set your mind to do something, you can achieve amazing results


Prerna Gupta2Prerna Gupta

Prerna , known as one of the most influential women in technology, actually
failed in her first tech company. Her original startup was a social networking site specifically aimed at Indians. She worked on this idea for four years; built up 2 million users and managed to secure an offer for an acquisition. However, in 2008 the market crashed and the company that was interested in acquiring them pulled out. This made it impossible to keep the company going and it shut down.

Instead of seeing this as a huge failure she used what she had learnt about choosing the right investors in her next venture, Khush.  Khush develops artificial intelligent music apps and thanks to Prerna’s lessons from the failed first startup, she found the right investor and Khush was purchased by Smule in 2011.  It now has 50 million users and Prerna’s net worth is estimated to be in the region of $7 billion.

Prerna’s top tip:

Use what you learn from a failure and turn it into success


Michelle MoneLady Michelle Mone

Lady Michelle Mone is one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs. She is founder of
Ultimo, a leading lingerie brand where she invented the Ultimo bra. Now she has a portfolio of products and a business with a multi-million pound turnover.

Michelle Mone did not have an easy start in life. She grew-up in a poor family in Glasgow. Her father was paralysed at the age of 38 and Michelle left school at 15 with no qualifications so that she could help support her family. She could have seen not finishing school as her first failure in life. Instead she went out and got an office junior job at Labatt Brewers where she quickly rose up the ranks to Head of Sales and Marketing for Scotland. However, aged just 24 she was made redundant and had to start all over again. Instead of seeing this as another failure she came up with Ultimo… A mere 6 weeks after her redundancy!

Lady Michelle Mone’s top tip:

Always think big in life as you are just as good as anyone else is.

What these 3 women show us is that your mindset really can determine your success. The even better news is that Carol Dweck’s research also shows that even if you don’t start out with a Growth Mindset, you can definitely develop one.

The fear of failure is the biggest thing my clients tell me is holding them back from going for what they really want in life, particularly those who want to take a leap and set up a business. With a Growth Mindset failure won’t seem so unconquerable, and fear of it will become irrelevant.

So my top tip is:

Watch Carol Dweck’s TED talk and start to find ways to develop your own Growth mindset.

I’m sure you will have your own experiences of overcoming failure in pursuit of your dreams. To help others on their journey towards what they really want in life, it would be great if you could share your top tips in the comments section below.

I look forward to being inspired by them.


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