"Fireside" Chat with Serena Williams
During a “fireside” chat at Quickbooks Connect, I go to hear from Serena Williams and learn about all the endeavors she has going on. I just knew her as that incredible tennis player, but she has gone on to do much more in the areas of fashion and venture capitalism. However, it was her outlook on failure that really caught my attention.
Serena Williams is the most decorated professional athlete ever, having won a total of 39 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She has won 7 Wimbledon singles titles, more than any other player in the Open era, as well as 7 Australian Open singles titles. Additionally, she has earned 4 Olympic gold medals for tennis and has become the first African American woman to be ranked world number one in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Her achievements have been recognized with numerous awards, including being named WTA Player of the Year five times and Sportswoman of the Year by Sports Illustrated three times.
Despite her many successes, Serena Williams has also experienced failure. In 2004, she lost in the finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments. The following year, she was defeated in three out of four major tournaments. At the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, she was upset in the third round by Russia’s Elena Dementieva. And at Wimbledon in 2009, she lost to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in straight sets during semifinals.
At Quickbooks Connect, in her interview with Carla Hall, she said that her failures were what drove the greatest growth. Likewise, in an interview with ESPNW, Williams explains her journey saying “I feel like I had gone through some really hard times… You know what? Those hard times made me stronger.” This is exactly how Thomas Griffin put it when he said “Failure doesn’t stop people; it’s how people handle failure that stops them.” For Williams, learning from her mistakes allowed her to become a better player and ultimately achieve greater success than ever before!
What is Failure?
Failure is the lack of success in reaching a desired outcome or goal. It can be a feeling of disappointment or frustration that arises when expectations are not met, or it can be an event that results in the non-achievement of an intended objective. Failure can occur at any stage of the journey toward a goal, whether during conception or implementation. We can’t be afraid of failure though. Failure isn’t what defines us; it’s how we respond to it that matters. If we’re not failing, it means we’re not growing and trying new things. As Jon Acuff said:
We can all relate to this sentiment as we continuously grow and learn throughout life. We don’t have to be perfect the first time around—we just need to understand that failure is a part of progress and keep trying no matter what obstacles may come our way.
In business, as in life and sports, failure is an inevitable part of the journey. However, it’s how we handle failure that determines our success or lack thereof. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed miserably at some point in their careers, but they didn’t let it stop them. They picked themselves up and tried again until they found success.
One such entrepreneur is Richard Branson. He started his first business at the age of 16 and by 21, he had already failed twice. However, that didn’t deter him from trying again. In fact, he viewed failure as a learning experience and used it to help him achieve greater success later on. Today, he is the founder of Virgin Group, which has more than 400 companies in its portfolio.
Another example is Steve Jobs, who was fired from his own company in 1985. He could have given up after that setback, but instead he founded NeXT Computer and Pixar Animation Studios. And of course we all know what happened next—he returned to Apple in 1997 and turned it into the most successful technology company in the world.
So don’t be discouraged if you fail; view it as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger so that you can eventually achieve your goals.
Failure is a part of life, and it’s inevitable that we will experience it at some point. However, it’s how we handle failure that determines our success or lack thereof. Many successful entrepreneurs have failed miserably at some point in their careers, but they didn’t let it stop them. They picked themselves up and tried again until they found success. So don’t be discouraged if you fail; view it as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger so that you can eventually achieve your goals. With hard work and resilience, anything is possible! Now get out there and go make some mistakes – they will help make you better in the long run!