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What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? We hear that question a lot. And, it’s a good one. But I what I want to know is, what would happen if you failed? Really. What’s the worst thing that would happen? For me, it’s looking stupid and losing money. But, when I really think about it, is that really all that bad? In the end, even if I fail, I will have learned a lot, grown a lot, made a lot of valuable contacts, developed new perspectives, and I’d actually come out the other side a bigger, stronger person.
We often confuse failing at something with being a failure, just as we equate having a success with being successful. Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Twenty seven publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book. Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the age of 62. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and started a failed first business before creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
These people are by no means failures. They failed, sometimes multiple times, but they are not failures. Imagine a world without them. What would have happened if they had not even tried for fear of failure? Or, if they had given up after the first knock.
On the flip side, Bernie Madoff appeared to be a huge success: successful business, incredible wealth, happy marriage, loving family. In the end, would you call him successful?
Inaction leads to definite failure but if we keep it quiet enough, who will know? If no one knows, they can’t judge us. But, inside, we know we gave up, chickened out, played small.
What you’re up to isn’t on the scale of the famous greats? Maybe not… yet. But, whatever you are doing will make a difference for someone. Remember the starfish story, which I have blogged about in the past? Go back and read it again.
Let me share my personal experience. When I first conceived my New Leaf Touchstone Bracelets, I thought people would think it was a stupid idea and that I was stupid to have thought of it and to be investing time and money into it. I listened to that voice in my head and thought, ‘if I fail at it, then they will have been right and I’ll really look bad.’ Moving forward was going to require a financial investment. I had to buy the materials, pay for labor, launch a new website. If I invested in a bad idea…well, what would that say about me? I stalled for 2 years. And then, I forged ahead. If I had never moved forward, over 1,000 people around the world would not be wearing my bracelets to help them act on their intentions. I would not have connected with the amazing girls and staff at the Germaine Lawrence School or the amazing people at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I would not have met the hundreds of other people I have met and learned from and contributed to along the way. I would not have grown in areas I had no idea were available to me. The bracelets didn’t become the ‘next Pet Rock’ as I had hoped. They didn’t make me a millionaire. But after fearing failure for 2 years, making and marketing them has created some success and made a big impact on a lot of people, not the least of whom is me. Failure to launch is failure to learn.
Whether you don’t take the plunge, or whether you do and it doesn’t work out, it’s a failure. Consider which you’d prefer to experience. And remember, failing doesn’t make you a failure. Despite the things you do that don’t work out well, you do many things successfully. You are a success, despite the fact that you may fail from time to time.
Go for it!
CEO’s running successful companies don’t do it alone. As CEO of your life, why should you?
Organizations that thrive have Boards of Directors or Boards of Advisors, a group of individuals who are committed to the success of the business and who each bring their own unique gifts, talents and perspectives to situations.
A group of talented and trusted women in your life can help you thrive in your personal endeavors and reach your goals. And, there are a wealth of hidden gifts available to them in the process.
One of my dearest friends and mentors, Wendy Capland, assembled a Board of Advisors (later dubbed Board of Girlfriends) for her company, The Magic Parties about 6 years ago. We have had the pleasure of watching and helping her grow her business. But more than that, we were a group of strangers to each other before we began our work on Wendy’s board and we are now intimate friends. In the process of being in service to The Magic Parties, we have had the joy and privilege of helping each other grow. These women have become some of my closest, most trusted friends. The gifts I have received as a result of my participation on the Board, far exceed what I have contributed.
Boards of organizations have some are all of the following characteristics.
So what can a Board of Girlfriends do for you?
So go ahead, whether you are running a small business or trying to live your own best life, invite others in to help you. Who are you going to ask?
We all make much more of a difference in the world than we give ourselves credit for. Every interaction we have with another human being makes an impact. Every move we make, causes a change. But we wait to give ourselves credit for the BIG ONE, whatever that is. Think about it, the way you treat the cashier at the grocery store has an impact on her day, and, it may affect the person behind you in the line. The conversation you have with your children has an impact, the smile (or frown) on your face sends a message and makes an impact. Just by being, we are far more powerful than we know. Be aware of your actions and consciously choose those that will create the environment you strive for.
Take a few minutes to watch this great TED video that illustrates my point.
Most mornings, I take my dog, Otis for a walk in the woods. And most mornings, we start at the parking lot and walk a big loop going clockwise. This morning, I decided to change things up a bit and I followed the path in a counter clockwise direction. Wow, what a difference. I had to really think about what I was doing and where I was going. I couldn’t be on auto-pilot and just put one foot in front of the other without paying attention. The same path I have hiked hundreds of times seemed completely different. I was disoriented. Things that are usually on my left were on my right. Terrain that I’ve always experienced as uphill went downhill. At one point, I didn’t recognize my surroundings and I got a little nervous that I had gone off the path, although the trail markers were clearly visible. People who I often see along the way noticed that I was coming from a different direction than usual and wondered why.
It got me thinking that all change is like that. It requires that we know where we are going. (I had to end up where I started and where my car was parked and not go off on some side trail to who knows where.) I had to pay attention to the milestones that told me I was on the right track, in this case, the trail markers. I’d have been more comfortable if I had not been alone and had the support of others, but that was not to be today. I was relieved when I saw familiar faces along the way and found it amusing that they noticed the change and saw me differently. I had to be OK with the feeling of discomfort and uncertainty and keep going in spite of them. I had to keep in mind that my goal was for Otis and me to get exercise and be out in the fresh air. Being comfortable wasn’t necessarily part of the deal.
Every time we try something new or change how we do something we’ve done a particular way for a long time, it requires that we step out of our comfort zone. We develop our ‘change muscle’ by doing that and then change gets easier for us. Before long, we are eager to experience new things, adopt new behaviors, and make changes that enable us to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
If you struggle with change, try making one small change everyday. Take a different route to work. Shop at a different grocery store. Write with your non-dominant hand for a while, hold your cell phone up to the ear you don’t usually hold it to. Walk a different path in the woods. Over time, you’ll become a change champion, ready to adapt and make changes with ease.
I was at a women’s networking group meeting on Tuesday night. One woman was describing a project she was working on and she proudly told us about a couple of what sounded to me like significant accomplishments. Then, without taking a breath she said, “BUT I didn’t do…” Can you hear a sucking sound as you read this? It’s the sound of the woman sucking the positive energy right out of the room and turning what could have been a cause for celebration into a downer dwelling. Instead of leaving us with things to feel good about, she took us down the path of gloom and doom.
Another woman was sharing her accomplishments and said, “They were just little things”. JUST little things? They sounded pretty significant to me!
When we minimize our efforts and our accomplishments, we rob ourselves of the positive momentum we need to keep going. We give the impression of not valuing what we do. If we don’t value our work why should others?
Here are some typical self-defeating things I often hear women say,
“I’m sorry to bother you but could you do me a little favor?”
“This might be a stupid question but…”
“I’m sort of going to try to…”
“I could be wrong but I think…”
“I did the first three things on my to-do list but I didn’t get to the last two.”
The language that we use gives our listeners a sense of what we think of ourselves and it regulates our own personal power and energy.
Notice the difference in energy if the 5 phrases above were said this way:
“Excuse me, do you have a few minutes? I’d like to ask you something.”
“I have a question, …”
“I am going to do _____ by _(date)____.
“I’m proud that I did the first 3 things on my to-do list and I’ll do the last 2 by the end of next week.”
Notice how often you say ‘but’ or ‘just’ or otherwise use language that minimizes your accomplishments and therefore you. Kick that ‘but’ to the curb and consciously choose more empowering language.