According to my reader survey, 34% of you are already full-time entrepreneurs. That 34% know something the rest of you might not: Entrepreneurship is not risky. In fact, it might be the least risky thing you can do.
Why a Post About Entrepreneurship?
According to that same reader survey, 57% of you are not currently entrepreneurs but want to be. That’s why you follow me…to learn how to escape a job you hate and make it on your own.
I’m currently running my fourth business. The first one failed miserably. So did the second one. And the third. So, why then is this one so successful? It’s, in part, because I knew how to come back…and what to do next.
The Problem with Failure
The problem with failure is that most people handle it wrong. They respond in the wrong way and then change course. Rather than trying the same thing again, they think they have to try something new.
That makes sense, of course. When you fall flat on your face, instinct tells us to avoid whatever it was that led to that pain. But we should do the exact opposite. We should try it again.
Studies show us that is exactly what successful people do. One study, done by Lewis Schiff, author of the book Business Brilliant, shows that self-made millionaires have at least three significant business failures in their lives. Sounds familiar to me.
Why are you often afraid to fail? Why does it paralyze you from continuing to pursue your dream, take the next right action, or act on your calling? For most of us, failure is devastating and demoralizing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A Lesson in Failure from my Father
I’ll never forget the day my dad taught me how to handle failure. When I was growing up playing competitive golf, my dad often served as my caddie. He was also a teaching professional who’d played in more PGA Tour events (two) than I ever did (none). So he knew a thing or two about the game.
On this particular day, I’d just hit a miserable putt and immediately hung my head in shame. I knew as soon as I’d hit it that the ball would not go into the hole.
So I muttered something sarcastic to myself, complained out loud about my effort, and pouted while the ball rolled past the hole. That’s when my dad asked me, “What are you paying attention to right now?”
What if you truly could never lose? What if every failure wasn’t the end but the beginning? What if you truly are invincible? What if you actually believed that?
I recently took our four-year old daughter, Aracelli, to the park for a daddy-daughter date afternoon. It was unseasonably cold, so we had the place to ourselves, except for a few brief moments when another family showed up. That was when the little girl Aracelli was playing with taught me a powerful lesson.
Make up the Rules as You Go
Somehow, I managed to be “it.” “It” of course means that I am the designated chaser. No adult ever chooses to be “it” or ever knows why he or she is “it.” It remains to this day one of the greatest mysteries of humankind: the origin of the “it.” But I digress…
As the “it,” I was charged with chasing two little girls around the park. Up and down ladders, over the bridge, down the slides, until, at last, I caught my daughter and tagged her. As I triumphantly celebrated my massive accomplishment and announced the passing of “it” status to Aracelli, Eleanor announced something remarkable:
“You have to catch us twice,” she yelled. She was making the rules up as she went.
She can always win.
She can never be defeated.
I recently made a terrible parenting mistake. One that I swore I would never make. I’ve seen far too many well-intentioned people make this mistake. They want to prevent a loved one or someone they lead from feeling pain, making mistakes, embarrassing themselves, or accidentally going against a social norm.
What was that terrible mistake that I made?
I told our four-year old daughter, Aracelli, not to play in the mud. Worse, I got mad at her for doing so.
That may not seem like a big deal to some of you. After all, there are important things to protect. Like our carpet, her clothes, and her lady-like behavior.
When I tell people that I started my own business three years ago, most people say things like, “I could never do that” or “You’re braver than I am.” When I tell them this is my fourth business and how the first three failed, their eyes get even wider. I must be courageous, stubborn, or perhaps a little crazy (I think it’s all three).
Since so few people are willing to call me stubborn or crazy to my face, they focus on the courageous part. How does one find the courage to overcome his fears and take action despite the potential risk? And, even more so, how do you find the courage to start something important when the past seems to say “you’ve failed before, you’ll fail again?”