Failure An Asset?
If you have been in business very long then you have come up against a number of problems no doubt. You may have even recently experienced a heart breaking setback or major failure.
Well take heart…you’re amongst the champions like Walt Disney, the Wright Brothers, Oprah Winfrey and many others.
But have you ever stopped to assess the value of failure?
Sounds strange doesn’t it? That Failure has a value?
Failure Is NOT BAD!
Seems like from the time we are born that we are constantly being told by teachers, parents, and the gamut of social influences that failure is a big red pen with the letter “F” at the top and that it is BAD! It’s evident that society is bent on forming us into good little soldiers who will follow the norm and strive to be their idea of perfect.
But from my experience, that is rich with failure, it seems that what they failed themselves to learn is that you learn more by failing than you do by succeeding. They, being the so called society experts, put so much pressure on us to be perfect and get good grades and conforming to their ideas of acceptable, that we miss a very valuable aspect of learning.
Learning by doing!
What would have happened to society if they scolded and punished you when you tried to walk for the first time and you fell or FAILED?
Would you be walking today?
And how about our Space Program when we advanced from the Wright Brothers Airplane to the Space Shuttle that we highlight in our movie “Who’s Depending On Your Dream“ What would have happened if after the first rocket blew up we threw up our hands and gave up?
Would we ever have reached the moon, or perhaps beyond?
Of course not!
Nothing that we enjoy today would be around if when we made mistakes and failed we gave up and said “Well I guess it just wasn’t meant to be!”
So what is the value of failure?
Truth be told, failure is the fire that purifies the gold, the feedback we need to make what we are doing better and more valuable. It’s the bedrock of a prosperous society. The more quickly we fail and, here is the key, the more we learn about our failures, the better we can become in the future.
But failure can have more than just a lesson in them, they can even have a message in them saying that we are “heading in the wrong direction”.
Allow me to explain.
A Personal Story!
I launched my business more than 20 years ago. My desire was to incorporate all the lessons I had learned while promoting my mentor Jim Rohn and working with some very successful business men in the human potential field. I began to see a huge opportunity that would be the answer to solve much of the social suffering in our world. People lacked the proper knowledge or life skills that made life abundant in every area.
How did I come to this conclusion?
Simple deduction…From my own failures of trial and error in trying to figure out how to make my own life work well.
But what I did not know was the number of failures or mistakes I would make along my journey. So numerous and some so devastating for that matter that at times I felt like throwing in the towel because I thought maybe something was wrong with me.
Now to give you an idea of just how many problems or failures I encountered let me share with you just a few from my rich treasury.
Examples of Failure
In my 40 some odd years of life I’ve started more than 16 businesses. And in each of these I ran into multiple problems or failures. If I look closely like my friend Wally Amos taught me, I have to take responsibility for all of them.
Some were just the average challenges we all run into like:
Technical failures galore:
- Websites that would not work,
- Coding issues that crashed our site or prevented log in.
- Shopping carts that did not install correctly,
- Servers that could not handle demand,
- Hosting companies that misinformed us and shut our site down.
- Computers that crashed multiple times.
- Programs that crashed before you could save the page or document you were working on.
Theft up the wazo:
- Hosting with Internet Marketers who would steal your ideas as they watched you develop your site.
- Hiring the wrong people who lied they could do the job and later was revealed they could not.
- People that were paid to do a job then disappeared after they got paid and never did the work.
- Negotiating the lowest possible price only to discover it eventually would cost even more money to have someone come in and do it right.
- Developers who would not do their work in the necessary time frame I needed.
- Having someone break into my car and stealing all the music we had for our seminars.
Behemoth Financial Challenges:
- Sales not coming in on time or customers who delayed in their payment causing us to have to have an entire division to negotiate with creditors, the bank, the utility companies, phone & cell company and internet providers etc. so services would not be interrupted or turned off.
- Creditors calling trying to get you to pay your now overdue credit card payments.
- Having to hide your car that was financed till you could make enough from your business to pay off the loan.
- We went on a month long vacation only to come home to a house that had been flooded due to a toilet regulator that snapped off. The water damage destroyed my office rendering me inoperative right when my clients needed me most.
The IRS Monster:
- Accountants who lost taxes, or failed to check off a box that gave us credit for our losses and filed a $60,000 NOL on the income line. Then lost their notes as to how they justified their calculations which raised the red flag to the IRS causing a 3 year audit and hiring tax attorneys to solve the problem.
- A flood that destroyed our receipts that the IRS needed to verify our expenses.
- Plus the 3 months on being on my knees and having to organize all the invoice, receipts and paycheck or bank stub, that we could find and tally them by category with a receipt showing the total of each category.
Human Error Mistakes
- Our business partner canceling his credit card with with Auto-responder service and failed to notify us. As a result we lost ALL of our subscribers with no way to get them back.
- Failed to back up our online data base.
- Manufactures dropping your account after prototyping your product when they saw that initial runway orders would not satisfy their own desires.
- My own lack of skills in leadership, time management, stress management, fears that delayed my work or caused me to work too long and not get the proper sleep.
- Letting work take precedence over my family. Ignoring the promptings of GOD’s spirit to stop working and choosing to get more done,
- Not taking care of my health, ignoring my own experience cause the pressures of work over riding my strategy.
- Failing to work on my business and instead working in the business.
Those are just a few of the past challenges we have faced, not to mention our current challenges of trying to be resurrected from the dead.
Each of those mistakes taught me valuable lessons because, while I could read books and take classes, nothing teaches better than actually going through the fire. Failure teaches us resilience, persistence, patience, long suffering, and so much more.
But there are failures that leave you emotionally, mentally, financially, relationally and spiritually devastated.
- Business partner stealing money and clients,
- Investing your life savings into the business to see it fail,
- Losing everything: Home, Business, Job, health, loved ones,
- War (depending on what country you are in)
These can really devastate you because you think your life is over. You don’t know where to turn or what to do. Thoughts run through your brain of “How am I going to provide? What about my future?, What will become of my children?” even thoughts of suicide. It certainly runs the gamut.
Yet this kind of failure has a powerful purpose and message for you if you can be patient and learn to read the signs. What you will come to discover is that it was hand picked just for you.
Failure Custom Made.
Now as difficult as it may be right now, understand that utter failure is a beautiful circumstance that we can only understand when everything is lost. It is often referred to as “The Dark Night of the Soul” or as I shared from my own life “The Dark Night of Love“
It is a special kind of failure that is custom made just for you. One with a deeper purpose.
To help you pass through this devastation, just know that what it will produce IN you in the form of character, is significantly more valuable than what you may learn intellectually. This kind of loss is being used as the forge to sharpen you for the future.
Reading The Signs
But what makes failure so challenging, especially in the beginning, is to read between the lines or discern the meanings of problems or failures because often times things that happen in the natural realm are used to try and communicate with us something in the spiritual realm.
Let me give you a specific example.
Technical Glitch Exposes Truth!
We were updating an existing Entrepreneurial Resource Center e-PitStop.com . Everything was working fine until one day out of the blue we had an 500 Internal Server Error that was preventing our members from being able to sign into the membership sight. We contacted the hosting company and they said it was a coding issue and the developer should work on it. The developer said it was a server issue and the hosting company was responsible. No one was committing to fixing the problem.
More determined I asked the hosting company to escalate the issue to a higher level. Upon further review they discovered that some how there was a piece of code that was creating an endless loop where one part of the code was instructing the server to read a specific file and that file was telling the server to go back to the code that instructed to read that file. So it created an endless loop.
But we had a double loop. One with the coding issue, and one between the hosting company and the developers taking responsibility.
One night while explaining to my wife the problem it dawned on me the problem was with me because I was struggling with the direction I should take with the business based on some new information I had received.
I really want to make sure we were doing the right thing to help our clients and customers and this new information could be so life altering that it could cause us to completely change the direction we were going.
Back and forth I was pondering what we should do. It dawned on me that this 500 Internal Server Error was trying to reflect back to me that I had the problem. Once I committed to the way we should go about incorporating this new information, the problem was quickly fixed on the website.
Business Failure Reveals Deeper Purpose.
That technical glitch was a common problem that provided a message. But more difficult failures, like the one I revealed on my blog “The Dark Night Of Love“, were the kind that devastated me in every way you can imagine. It was a business failure that revealed a deeper purpose that in the end, gave me the gift of seeing more clearly and developed in me a connection to life I would not trade for anything.
Being able to discern the deeper message of failure becomes kind of an art that can only be developed in the furnace. Sometimes the problem is there to see how committed you are to accomplishing your vision. A challenge if you will to determine your resolve and to see if you are worthy. Sometimes it’s just a stubborn obstacle trying to stop you from reaching your vision. Almost as if some dark force knows that if you succeed more people will be rescued from the darkness they are trapped in. Sometimes it’s something that must happen to help you discover a better plan like the book “Getting to Plan B” explains.
Sometimes it’s a test. To see if you are willing to die to YOUR vision like in the movie Shark Boy & Lava Girl, so that a new dream can be birthed.
On another note, sometimes it is the divine force of life telling you that you are going in the wrong direction altogether and to focus on something way more important.
Learning to read the signs can be challenging but asking for help is crucial to help you pass through “the valley of the shadow of death” so let me give you a few resources that may help provide peace in the midst of your storm.
Some Valuable Resources
1) There is a great book by Nancy Missler called “Faith in the Night Seasons” where she talks about this exact thing. Where sometimes the circumstances of failure are custom designed to bring you to your knees, strip you of all you have relied on in the past for success and help you better connect with the divine force of life.
2) Another great book is “The Upside of Adversity” by Os Hillman. In this book Os chronicles how he lost his multi million dollar marketing business, his wife, all his monies, and almost the relationship with his daughter. He lost his control, his reputation, his confidence. He revealed how he discovered his path was to be a 7 year journey that is often called “The Joseph Calling” and it was designed to make him a new kind of leader.
3) Enroll the help of someone deeply seasoned with a solid understanding of the spiritual world. While you may not fully understand it, we are affected by unseen forces much the way a airplane operates in forces many do not understand. When times are easy or good we seldom spiritual help. But it’s when things go severely wrong that we seek all kinds of help and many overlook the importance of the spiritual world. They misunderstand the message. Those who have been matured through the fires of adversity can properly help you.
Some Final Notes!
Be encouraged to know that your failure is truly a “GODsend” and what you need to learn can only be forged in the furnace of adversity, or failure. This is where wisdom is birthed.
You can either learn it from others to shorten your learning curve, or you can go the hard way and figure it out on your own.
The keys to pass through the valley of the shadow of death is, humility, sensitivity, trust, persistence, and patience. Be assured that in due time, you will pass through it.
Rodney Atkins song “If You’re Going Through Hell” has some wisdom as well.
So if you find yourself up to your ears on problems then know you are being forged into a great leader….Walt Disney encountered many problems before he ever succeeded. At one point he had to negotiate with his landlord to not throw him out because he could not pay his rent. But her persisted and learned and of course History was created and he ended up having an opportunity to employ 10,000 people during the great depression.
What if he had given up or misread the signs? 10,000 people may have perished in threat Depression. The same thing with Oscar Schindler who rescued many holocaust victims because he persevered in some dark times, stuck with his vision and saved many from the death camps.
Study your failures, learn to read the story they are telling you and hang on even if you are led to give up on your dream for another one to come along. You may even be surprised if the old one is brought back to you when you are ready. It may be helpful to also understand that the true vision in your heart has an appointed time and will arrive right on time…
In the end each failure will prepare you to walk in greatness down the road.
Share your greatest experience of failure and what you learned from it and how it prepared you for your next step on the ladder of life.
Upward & Onward and remember to “Fly Right”
Roger Gauthier is the CEO of Tri-VisionGlobal. A Holistic Strategic Optimization company that assists entrepreneurs in reaching their true destiny by learning how to embrace the spiritual principles and apply them to 4 critical areas of life and business.