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On Failure

On Failure

Yesterday, I wrote about Success.  But what about failure?  Statistically, any business or venture is more likely to fail than to succeed.  But really, it depends on your definition of failure.  If you take the dictionary definition: an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful.  All told, that’s a pretty nebulous definition, given that success means different things to different people.  For one, success may mean being able to cut your day job to part time.  In which case, enough sales to supplement your day job would count as a success.  For another, being fully self-sustaining so you can QUIT the day job…in which case, only enough sales to supplement the income would be a failure.

But again, is it?  In a more nebulous sense (meaning NOT the dictionary definition) failure is a state of mind.  You only truly fail when  you fail to learn from mistakes.  Did you overspend on marketing, cutting in to your operating budget?  That’s a mistake to learn from, and not even necessarily fatal.  It’s just something to learn and move on.

Did you not practice as much as you could have, leading you to not even placing in the competition?  Or what if you practiced til your feet bled, but the first place winner just had that extra spark?  How you react in that situation determines whether or not you are a success or a failure.  You can scream about how unfair it was, how much you practiced, how you feel robbed of your opportunity.  Or you can acknowledge that today was not your day.  Go home, do more, try harder.  And maybe next time it will be your day.

Failure is very much a state of mind.  You can let life’s set backs hold you down, you can rail and scream about what went wrong.  Or you can acknowledge it happened, dust yourself off, and move forward with plan b….c…d…and plan e.  However many plans it takes for you to reach your personal definition of success.  You’re only a failure when you quit trying.

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On Success

On Success

You’ve done it!  You’ve fed the muses and kept them happy.  They in turn are feeding you inspiration.  And all that hard work is starting to pay off.  Maybe it starts with a bang, you launch your business, and it’s an overnight success story.  Or maybe it’s a slower burn.  A post like here, a sale there…it’s more gradual, but ever upward.  It’s slow, but you know you’re on the right path.

As wonderful as success is, it also comes with a side dish of bitterness.  See, success will show you who’s really in your corner.  You’re true friends will continue to support you.  They’ll cheer on every post like, every sample sold, every customer response, good or bad.  They may offer critique, but it will always be constructive (hey, have you thought of this?)

You’re not so true friends and full on haters will start with venom.  It probably won’t be as obvious at first.  Snide asides.  Hints that something is off or less than perfect.  The trick is to weed out the genuine pieces of helpful advice, the things that can help you move your business forward and in to your next level of success, from the bitter remarks of a jealous friend.

I don’t say former friend, because even jealousy can pass and someone can find they are genuinely happy for your success.  Or it’s entirely possible that in your flush of success, you turn in to a bit of a snot, and what is offered as genuine critique is blown all out of proportion by you.  In which case, pull your head out!  Seriously, success gets awfully lonely and if you turn in to a snot, you will chase all your friends away.  Then when you need a friendly ear to run an idea by, all you’re left with are sycophants.  And there is no way to improve when surrounded by yes men (or yes women).

So celebrate the wins, big or small.  Keep your friends close, but listen to the haters.  Sometimes your next direction will come from the most unexpected source.