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IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO FAIL YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO SUCCEED – 5 things failure can teach you

June 7, 2010

As a young business woman, I’ve have made several mistakes that I’m not ashamed to mention, from not knowing how to manage growth of my bookkeeping thus loosing clients, to working for a friend and realizing that that wasn’t a good idea that eventually cost me a friendship and a severed business relationship, the failed job interview, and so on. I’ve had many successes so far as well, having reinvented my accounting, bookkeeping and consulting business and growing it 30% in one year and gaining momentum, to launching a successful web-based bookkeeping firm which already has happy clients in 3 states. But it’s always the set-backs that seem to keep me up at night and haunt me. We all have read the books about 7 habits of highly effective people and know the basis of entrepreneurship is about taking risks; we all know how to be successful and have been prepared to know how to be successful, but we haven’t been taught is how to react to failure! When we fail our lives fall apart, we feel like the world disowned us, we feel we are worthless, ashamed even. The most magnificent thing about our spirit though is that it always seeks balance. When we fail, there is always something won’t let us stay down long. But if we can only begin to start teaching how to respond to failure we might even be better business people! We will learn that even though we can’t predict when failure will take place, we can at least prepare how to react to it and how to come out of it!

I received a book from my aunt titled “When Smart People Fail” written by Cathy Lieob and I immediately was drawn to the book after having a major set-back when I was denied endorsement to open a Human services agency. I was eager to find answers to what I was feeling and thus began to read the book. It’s not that I love misery. The book is more than 15 years old but the message is definitely timeless: Failure, part of the process of finding success, is inevitable, yet still a matter of our own perception. The books takes on a quasi-scientific view of how various business and professional people respond to failure, the view of success in our culture and the stages of processing failure. It even offers some insight into the authors experiences with failure. The goal of the book is not to evoke a feeling of dwelling in failure but empowerment for those of us who tend to hide behind failure and learn to change our perception of it. From reading the book I was able to take away some great points:

1. Failure teaches you about yourself. Without failures our little egos would run amuck and cause havoc and destruction on the world! Ok I might be a bit exaggerated, but failure teaches us that we are human, that you know what I Don’t know everything! Failure shows us both the good and bad in us but teaches us to learn.

2. Failure opens the window to greatness in us. When I experienced a professional failure, each time, I’ve found a part of me that I never knew I had, a resilience and strength I never knew existed. I have a background in accounting but embarked on opening a human services agency. When I failed, I learned that I do have what it takes to be an entrepreneur and thus decided to pour my energies on my bookkeeping firm instead.

3. Faliure is part of the process. There is no light without dark, no happy without sad, no peanut butter without jam. You get my point. Part of our creation is about balance and life comes with risk. While I felt like a failure, I felt a tremendous sense of pride for taking the chance to do something others with my background would never do.

4. We are not alone. EVERY successful entrepreneur has a list of regrets and failures to support every success. It’s normal, and once I realized that it was normal and I wasn’t alone, I did feel better. You know what they say misery does love company J

5. Success and failure are moral judgments. It’s a matter of how we were raised, our experiences. Failure isn’t an objective occurrence, it’s merely subjective and thus we can change how it affects us. I have always been expected to win to be a success since I was a child, so this failure was embarrassing to me. After reading the book though I realized that the only person who took this as a failure was me, everyone else around me felt I had accomplished something great and I had to eventually agree.

After reading the book, I realized that everything that has happened in my fledging business career is totally normal, part of the process and I’m not alone! What I must do is recognize the failure as part of the process, pick myself up, dust myself off and remember that some of those failures were really a reflection of some reality of myself I need to change. And even acknowledging that failure is really about my perception! If I can somehow change how and what I perceive as failure I may realize that I have more successes. The success that I will achieve will feel bigger, better and more lasting than what I could have ever imagined. I don’t know but what I do know is that while we all  love basking in the glow of success we should learn to look impending failure in the distant eye and say “bring – it – on”

Be Empowered People…

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From → small business

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