Business, failure and bruised egos
Updated: May 7, 2018
I remember the first time I really bruised my business ego.
I was 21, I had convinced a bunch of investors that my idea was the next big thing. I had gone out and for months, built the product, pounded the pavement and found buyers. It was really hard work and after a while I began to realize that I wasn't going to get rich quickly.
On top of that I had to face the investors and tell them that they were only going to get most of their money back. It was a hard thing to do. I felt like a failure.
My ego was severely bruised and I learned a lesson that I never wanted to repeat.
If you are a leader in a community, a family, or a business it is inevitable that you are going to make mistakes.
Unless you have a heart of stone, this is going to hurt.
You are going to disappoint others; you are going to do things that affect people's lives; you are going to take criticism; people are going to say things that sting.
Unless we are narcissistic, most often we are harder on ourselves than the other people judging us. We seem to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold for others.
We seem to think that because we are the leader that we shouldn't make mistakes; that we are responsible for the choices and actions of ourselves and as well as for the others who have contributed to each failure, demise or stumble.
Our ego is deflated, we feel like a catastrophe, and often we sink into a depression.
But what is failure? If I had not failed in my first venture, would I have learned how to prepare for my next successes?
Thomas Edison tried approximately 10,000 times to invent the light bulb yet he is quoted as saying "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Imagine how many times he picked his ego off the floor, how often he would have been discouraged.
There was a young single mother on welfare who was struggling to support her child, who in her spare time dreamed of writing a novel.
Her novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, become a global best-seller.
Now a billionaire and considered one of the greatest business successes of the 21st century J.K Rowling is quoted as saying, "Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing."
How often does a fear of failure prevent us from beginning? We dwell on the fact that others might think less of us if we make mistakes, that they might criticize our efforts or laugh at our folly.
Because of this fear we fail to step up and speak what needs to be said in our families.
We fail to stand up and be counted in our communities. We decide not to risk our money or our time to live our dreams in business.
Yes, we are going to disappoint. We are going to make mistakes. People will talk about us and our egos are going to be hurt if we fail.
However, if we want to achieve something small or something great, we need to take risks. We need to follow our heart and do what is right.
In business, and in life, nothing happens if we are held back by fear that change is going to take too much effort and that, in spite of all that effort, we risk a dismal failure.
Forget your ego. Just focus on the possibility of what might be and take the risk.