Some events change your life forever. Your first romantic rejection, your first couch rugby non-performance, and your first business implosion. The successes fade into the distance of time, but your mistakes haunt you forever.
When you win there is no recrimination, no “what if”. You bask in the sunlight of success, and there is no need to analyse why you got it right. People you never knew claim to be your friends, and strangers dream of following in your footsteps.
On the other hand, when your life falls about you in ruins, there is more than enough time to inspect your effort in the very harsh halogen of hindsight. Especially if you cannot find a job. Your friends claim never to have known you, or that they always knew you were flying too high. And strangers remain just that. “What-if” becomes a refrain that will not leave you, not even for a moment.
As an older person this is the aftermath of the hubris of entrepreneurship. As a younger person, this is what happens after that first romantic rejection, when you find the goddess of your dreams in the arms of your best friend. And both seem to have lost their clothes.
And it has a deep, searing impact on your psyche.
But, here is the thing. Failure is the diploma you must gain before you can achieve any lasting success. Failure teaches you so much. More than anything it teaches you that success, like failure, is always temporary. Of course, in the cold throes of failure, temporary is a good thing. In the warm arms of success, the thought that it might not last long is one better avoided.
Almost every one that we put on a pedestal has a few lapses they would rather not share. Experience cannot grow without being fertilised by mistakes.
Yet, when those mistakes happen, the person who has just seen his experience quotient leap also finds that the rest of the world looks upon him as if he is wearing said fertiliser, and it is a premium brand from the local pig farm.
Why do we so despise those business owners who close their firms when things implode? Why do we look down on them when they lose their homes, the result of signing papers to grow their ventures, and making sure that their staff do get paid.
A bunch of the people who have consulted me had spent the final year of their venture borrowing more and more money in a vain effort to reach the light at the end of their tunnel. Much of that money was spent on paying salaries. Yet that effort carries no weight when the firm closes. The owner is pilloried, no matter how great the sacrifice.
Each staff member simply needs to find a new job. While the owner faces at least five years of court appearances and judgments, each opening another vein. Yet each document is an intense learning experience, and frankly, should be on your power wall, just like a diploma or degree.
Almost twenty years ago, I promised someone that if I could help anyone for free, I would. At that time “´free” was impossible. Teaching, training or meeting cost money. But,with the advent of webinars, an almost free resource, I can help.
So, on Tuesday 28 February, at 8pm SA time, I will be running the first Failures Anonymous online gathering. You are welcome if you are in the throes of such a growth experience. Or if you’re sick at heart about business. Or if you’re finding it too heavy. Or if you have survived it, but still find it nagging.
You will be anonymous. Only I can see names and I won’t use anything other than first names. And even then, if you have a unique name, I won’t use it. So no chance of bumping into anyone you owe money to.
The most empowering thing for me was the realisation that I was not alone, that the problems I was facing were shared by a heck of a lot of people. The more folk I spoke to, the more stories emerged about common behaviours by banks and big players – and it was great to get perspective.
Join me, and maybe we will have enough momentum to do this every month. And if you know of anyone who is in this boat, please put in a good word for me and get them to come along. Or at least to get a stiff glass of whiskey and listen in.
Don’t expect it to be all plain sailing because I have a bunch of advice, tactics, strategies, and words for those of us wallowing in self pity. Been there. Done that. The T-shirt is in tatters, but I still keep it close by.
Book your seat here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/468443529