AWESOMENESS, "Failure" and The Woes and Wins of Entrepreneurship


A friend just posted on Facebook,

"Sometimes I think I'm pretty awesome. Other times I feel like a loser. I'm not sure which is the truth and which is the lie. The last few days, I've been thinking maybe its the latter, that I've been deluding myself to think otherwise. I do a pretty good job of screwing things up — relationships, career, money, etc. — so I'm not sure which is the reality. I think I'm just freaking out because my business is still struggling to get off the ground and I'm running out of money and will have to take a desk job. I'm way too entrepreneurial for the 9-5 thing so it's killing me."

"I AM AWESOME!" is not a statement of arrogance or self-delusion—it's recognizing that who you ARE is based in a state of BEING not based on DOING. Accomplishing things and being successful in this or that aspect is important and meaningful, of course, but it's NOT the place to start. OWN that you ARE awesome REGARDLESS of what you DO. Why? So 1. When you succeed in what you are DOING you will naturally feel great from that, but won't feel your greatness is dependent "just" on that and 2. When you fail in what you are doing you have your clear sense of BEING to fall back on. From that safe sense of BEING you can recuperate, recharge, take solace and so on which will then help you get back into a more effective state of DOING. However, when our state of BEING is confused, in doubt, clouded and unclear it drains us so much that it's hard to get back into effective DOING. So this isn't just fluffy prop ya up fragile-ego stroking—it's a strategy to keep you focused and effective.

Most people consider me very successful, and in many ways I am. However, what most people don't know and haven't seen "behind the scenes" are how many, MANY, MANY things I have failed at, how INCREDIBLY LONG it took for my business to get off the ground. It was NOT a graceful lift off—but was a crash, bang, fail, screw-up, wrong choice, stupid mistake, exhausting hours while working jobs I loathed while building my consulting and speaking practice on the side, zero-budget or savings to work with, often depressing experience over and over and over again. Repeat. Repeat again. Welcome to entrepreneurship! ;-) Honestly being a successful entrepreneur is a real pain in the katukus (it's a LOT more than "build it and they will come") but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

The other side of PAYING THE PRICE of entrepreneurship is that NOW I work in a cute cottage behind my house, work with motivated clients I LOVE (locally and all around the world), create the workshops and products that I am passionate about, have the time to be with my kids and have the opportunity to keep growing in other opportunities.

Hang in there my fellow 9-5 hater! Never say die and DO NOT DOUBT YOUR AWESOMENESS or I'm going to take off my nice counselor mask and come over there and kick your booty!

Her reply:

"Wow, that's AWESOME, Jonathan! Thanks! Your input is invaluable. I think I'm going to post this somewhere where I can remind myself regularly. I want to hug you right now. You made my day! I'm really glad you took the time to comment. It helped a lot."

I told her, "You are VERY welcome. I personally know all too well how much encouragement and support this takes. We're all in this together! Hang in there my friend!"

The conversation continued and another friend shared:

Brene Brown makes the point in this talk "Listening to Shame" that the TED Conference is a great collection of people who have learned how to fail repeatedly.

Excellent talk! Failure, folks IS the mechanism of success. Several failure mantras I've come up with that I use with myself, my kids and my clients:

  • "If you're not failing, you're not learning."
  • "Failure is the mechanism of success."
  • "We succeed in direct proportion to our failures, not in spite of them."
  • "Every successful person has a wake of failure in his/her path."
  • "I am failing to succeed" (a play on words--that while at the moment I may be failing and not succeeding I am also using failure as the path to my success).
  • "Fail on!"
  • "Mistakes are bad if you don't learn from them. Mistakes are good so long as you learn from them."
  • "Failure is an event, not a person."

Please read my other articles on this subject:

I'll try to remember to post my "Hey Kids! Failure Posters" we did as a family activity one night and posted on the walls and doors around our house.

So FAIL ON! my friends and keep learning and as Winston Churchill said, "NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!"