So I’ve had some pretty significant failures in the past and present. It pains me to admit this to the world because there is no worse feeling to me than not living up to my expectations.
In 2008 I tried to start up a recruiting business, but unfortunately I didn’t realise that when the entire country is laying off employees, there isn’t much hiring going on. After many hours, weeks, and months of time and energy invested with nary a lead, I gave that business up. This would be just one of many significant failures in my career and life.
After that I had an idea to start up a vinyl wall graphic business selling wall art for interior design. I personally built the eCommerce website, designed a corporate identity, build vendor relationships, and implemented some test runs. But after a few months of building this business in solitary I started to lose faith. I had no co-workers or partners to keep me going, and no social interaction until my wife came home from work.
While I was losing faith in that business I met a local friend who told me that Merrill Lynch was hiring. I had no previous experience in the industry but I do have a love of investing and finance. I decided to take the leap and join my friend at Merrill Lynch. After working there for a year and a half, I found it wasn’t what I expected and decided to go back to the graphic arts industry. Boom, failure number 3.
Three major career failures in only 3 years. How embarrassing.
These career failures aren’t an anomaly; looking back in my life I have failed at locking down the girl of my dreams, becoming a top athlete, and graduating with honours. If past performance is an indicator of future results, then the sky ain’t so rosy for me. Or is it?
The reason that I fail so much is that I am testing the limits of my comfort system. I am putting myself out there with a vision and a plan for success – but ultimately I am moving into the unknown. I wish there way to try new things an have 100% success, but the only way for me to live life without failure is to do nothing new and to stick with what I know.
Many individuals and companies fall into this trap of sticking with what they know. But after a number a years individuals may find their job is no longer relevant, and businesses will find that there is no longer a market for their product. Becoming stagnant is the surest way to become a complete failure.
To see your true potential you must venture into the unknown. You have to set yourself up for failure, and when you find success by venturing into the unknown, you will take yourself to the next level.
If I gave up after being a mediocre athlete in soccer, basketball, cross country, biking, baseball, etc. I would have never joined the crew team and built an exceptional club with great teammates and coaches. Had I given up on love after my first experience, I would have never married my wonderful wife Anne (who was actually the girl of my dreams the first time around). Had I not taken the risks to start up those past businesses, I would have never known what it takes to build a successful business.
All my past failures will lead to future success because I make a concerted effort to learn from those mistakes. I like to call these “learned lessons.” As humans we all fail, but it’s what you do with those failures that matter the most.
Put yourself out there, take risks, and push the limits of your comforts. Be like me and become a failure – but not a complete failure. Your learned lessons will help you become a stronger and more talented individual.
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