There’s a lot of conversation these days about failure – to the point saturation. Online publications such as Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur have published dozens if not hundreds of articles on the topic of failure, ranging from general info to anecdotal pieces by wildly successful individuals such as Mark Cuban and Gary Vaynerchuk. Here in Michigan, there’s a forum called Failure:Lab where individuals give presentations on past failures. If one didn’t know better, the concept of ‘failure’ – whether it’s personal or professional in nature – is being romanticized in a effort to un-demonize the phenomenon of falling short of a goal.
It’s true that there’s no teacher like experience. As Vern Law, the famous baseball player is known for pointing out, “Experience is a hard teacher because it gives the test first and the lesson afterward”.
The truth is, people aren’t afraid of failure. They’re afraid of the consequences of having failed. That, depending on your circumstances, could mean any number of things.
For some people, failure means a change in lifestyle. For example, the financial consequences of a failed business might mean losing a home or cars or not having the money for private schools that the kids are enrolled in. For others it could be an ego thing.
For MoxieMen, being in business is about the clients for whom we’re able to help make money. It’s about the fact that they have come to rely on our services to do better by their own customers, clients, patients and patrons. It’s about keeping their businesses healthy so that they can take care of their own employees and families. It’s about the vendors who allow MoxieMen to provide the level of service and results to do amazing things. It’s about the contractors who’ve come to rely on MoxieMen for income. If MoxieMen fails, they will all eventually be fine of course. But it would leave a hole for them to fill and I don’t want them to experience any unnecessary hardships.
For me personally, being in business is about freedom. The freedom of having a wife that can stay home with our two young sons. The freedom of a flexible schedule. The freedom to decline project work that is not a good fit. The freedom to pursue victory.
Victory. Everyone is different. What does ‘victory’ mean to you? Every day we stay in business proves every person wrong who ever said I couldn’t do this, subliminally or otherwise. Every day in business denies those same naysayers the satisfaction of predicting my personal and professional failure, even if it has more to do with their own insecurities than anything else. That’s victory. Victory is pushing forward every time that the evil cloud of self-doubt rears its ugly head and has to be swatted back down. Victory is quieting every negative voice in my head that tries to convince me that those people were right – you can’t do this.
But victory is more than just an eff-you to anyone who didn’t believe in me. As satisfying as it can be, the truth is victory is so much more than that. Victory is as much vindication to all the people who have been supportive – who’ve believed in and supported this. For as many detractors as there have been, there have been at least twice as many cheerleaders, champions, mentors and supporters. Victory is more for them then it is for me. Victory is the pride in my 13 year old daughter’s tone when she tells her friends about how her dad ‘has his own business‘. I could go on and on.
So don’t fear failure. Instead, put safeguards in place to soften the blow if things don’t work out. Failure doesn’t need to equal financial ruin, or outright embarrassment. Ensure that no matter what happens, you’ll mostly be fine, even if you have to recover for a bit.