I do not believe in failure. The most successful people I know will admit they’ve all hit bumps in the road, suffered major setbacks along the way and learned from each of those experiences–if they were smart. Michael Jordan admits, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Why I don’t believe in failure…
Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Teddy Roosevelt claimed, ³the person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything!” So now do you believe me? You can’t separate the successes from the failures–it’s all part of the same journey. The next time you get knocked down, it may be hard at first but I guarantee you’ll enjoy the journey a lot more if you get up and try again. By carrying around a lot of bitterness and anger, you’ll never lead a full life. Forgive, forget and move on.
I’ve quoted some pretty impressive people here, all of whom accomplished great things. They did it one step at a time, learning with each interaction, every encounter and conversation. They weren’t born with the answers; they fumbled their way through it just like the rest of us. When they reached a good place, people started quoting them–like Charles F. Kettering who said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement,” or H. Ross Perot who said, “When building a team, I always search first for people who love to win. If I can’t find any of those, I look for people who hate to lose.” That’s the entrepreneurial spirit!
I’m sure there are people out there who’ll claim they’ve never experienced failure.
It reminds me of the 80s when Wall Street was the place to be and the answer of choice when asked in interviews what your weaknesses is was to say “kryptonite.” I think if Supermen and women were being interviewed today about when they stumbled, the best response would be to admit you’ve missed the last shot at the buzzer and tell them why next time you’ll make it instead. Show what you learned from the experience, how you’ve reflected on the lessons and what steps you’ve taken to course correct going forward. I think the best people put themselves out there knowing they might not always win but they’ve trained hard and done their homework, prepared and planned for the moment to shine.
So don’t be scared to fail your way to success. Turns out, that’s the way it’s done.
My husband cooks and he always jokes about the four stages of roasting pine nuts: not done, not done, not done, burnt. How do you get them perfectly roasted? Practice! Nobody’s born with an Olympic Gold Medal or Academy Award. When you find intrinsic motivation from a sense of joy, purpose and mastery, you’re on the right track. Just keep failing until you succeed!
Once you realize you have the power within you to attract the kinds of success in people, relationships, qualities, attitudes and situations you want, you can begin focusing on the positive options in front of you at every juncture.
By cutting out the copycats and imposters around me, I created the time, space and energy to focus on the innovators and big thinkers. This, in turn, helped me build more opportunities and work in a better ecosystem to pursue my dreams.
Entrepreneurs need to be careful and specific in what they wish for. Hitting a certain revenue goal can be attainable but achieving that milestone with colleagues of questionable ethics isn’t worth it. When people around you don’t think the rules apply to them, it’s time to find a different sandbox to play in.
Great leaders don’t create followers, but instead develop other leaders who inspire greatness in those around them.
This year, I started paying attention to those who lead and inspire versus those who merely execute well. I appreciate working with people who give more than they take, don’t keep score, laugh every day, and leave a little something extra in every encounter.
Both personally and professionally, I was fortunate to work with true craftsmen–people who are passionate about what they do. I look for those qualities in all aspects of my life–from the roofer and his son who put new shingles on our home, to the carpentry crew who found the perfect paint colors and the gardening team who created an enchanted forest full of color and life in our yard. Each of these trades people are passionate about their gifts and show pride in their work.
So when I see a media person going through the motions of writing a press release without any heart in their words, I know it’s time to let go and move on. Clients can tell the difference between someone who just delivers versus a professional who really cares. Being technically competent is expected, but it’s not enough today. When you find professionals who show they care about what they do, hold onto them like gold. Let the others go quickly; life is too short for mediocre or disingenuous people.
Previously, I focused on the economics and figured if we could make some money together, I would overlook the fact that our core values were not compatible. I realized things like integrity and values matter a lot more than money to me. Working with people who try to skirt the rules to make a few extra bucks can sully your reputation by association.
So in this season of giving thanks, remember those who have helped you and added positive momentum in your life. I’m not a big fan of secrets or New Year resolutions, but here are a few thoughts to help you get 2016 off to a positive start:
The days of wasting time looking for important papers or rummaging through storage are over. Attain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can find the things you need when you need them and you’ve taken care of the people you care most about. When things are chaotic at the office or home, it’s hard to think clearly and be of much value in either place.
It takes a small army to accomplish many worthwhile things in life. Make sure to pause and reflect on how you were able to achieve those goals and thank those along the way who assisted in your success. I had the opportunity to thank someone publicly who was a great role model to me as a teenager. I could only focus on one of the many people who have helped me along the way, but it meant a lot to me for her to realize the positive influence she has had on my life. When celebrities, politicians or CEOs hog the limelight without mentioning others who have contributed to their success, it signals to me they are insecure. Often, the key link is behind the scenes and deserves credit for making things happen.
Keep it simple
A lot of people and companies talk about clarity, but few do it well. When you’ve been spending more time and energy managing your high maintenance colleagues than the customers you are serving, it’s time to get a new team. These are the ones whose egos need to be constantly stroked and have to dominate every conversation. It’s amazing how much more productive and fun the work environment can be when they’re gone.
Set clear priorities
Life and business are about choices. With an abundance of information available today, having unclear priorities can drive you crazy. Set deadlines, make the best decision and move on. Whether you have a day, week or month to complete a project, a time constraint can help you prioritize what factors can influence a decision. Stop stressing about all the things on your to-do list and focus on the ones that really matter. Once you set your goals, you’ll find that less really is more–more fulfilling and more rewarding.
Like Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s record, sometimes it seems as if the folks who cut corners get ahead. But people of character and integrity won’t have an asterisk next to their names in the history books. No footnotes are necessary to explain Aaron’s incredible achievements and record. People like Roger Clemens and Bonds would have been considered great ball players without skirting the system.
Give yourself a gift this year and focus on the essential people in your life who share your values and vision for the future. I believe a lot will be accomplished in the new year by the people achieving their dreams, while the others are fighting over who gets to take credit for all the great acts of kindness being created every day. You have the power within you to make good things happen.