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Being a Swede, I have to share this behind-the-scenes story from IKEA.
The guy who started IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, took frugality to new levels. For example, IKEA employees are not allowed to live in hotels in cities that have IKEA stores. Instead, they have to sleep in designated bedrooms inside the stores.
There are stories about how he got furious if he found out that an employee still would spend a night at a hotel.
But when IKEA expanded into Russia, they ran into problems. They had to cancel their expansion and lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
So one would assume Ingvar Kamprad to explode in fury, right?
The saying goes that he just shrugged and said: “That’s a lesson for the future”.
Embedded into this anecdote is a mindset that most successful people share: As long as you can extract a lesson from a setback, it’s valuable to you.
Ingvar got furious about spending money on things that didn’t teach him anything new. But failures and setbacks that teach you something can be seen as gifts rather than something negative.
Learning to adapt this mindset has helped me immensely. Whenever I mess up (whether it be in a social setting or in life in general), I take a step back. “Wait a minute. Is there something I can learn from this?”.
This has two benefits.
- It helps me to adapt and try a different approach next time
- My embarrassment or pain wasn’t in vain. It was more like a tuition I paid for a valuable lesson.
One example is that time I was invited to a high-end business event and talked way too much about myself. That night was an embarrassing failure (and my mess-up caused me to lose the nomination of “Young Entrepreneur of the Year”). But I was able to extract a lesson from it: Be more interested in others.
What are some setbacks or failures you’ve had recently that you can learn from? I’d love to hear in the comments!