The third week of the month is always a big one for meetings and the first month of the quarter is especially challenging. I typically end up at 5 lunches with networking, a speaker, and more networking. Â This month, for whatever reason, everyone wanted to talk about “don’t be afraid to fail”. Â I’m struggling with this because I don’t think I know what they mean so I’ve come here to work it through. Thanks for indulging me!
When I launched my business, it was because I had spent 5 months consulting while looking for a job (keep in mind it was 2009) and realized I could never find a job that gave me as much variety and interesting work as consulting. Â I had also never felt so free as I did when I only worked for the client. No more counter-intuitive agendas. Just straight up customer service.
When I made the decision to jump in with both feet, it was with the full understanding and knowledge I have a responsibility to my family. Â I also feel I have a responsibility to my clients. So at the end of the day, anything I did that keep things going forward and making money is a win. If I don’t land a particular client, is that really a “fail”?
I guess it goes back to school for me. To “fail” is to get so many things wrong you might as well have stayed home in bed. I struggled with a couple subjects in school but if I got a really bad grade it was never because I didn’t try. It was because I truly didn’t get it. And while I failed to pass the test, I never failed to pass the class. I worked my butt off until I got it.
So now in the business world, I feel like “failing” is only if you would have been better off staying in bed that day. And it isn’t one thing – it has to be big things. I didn’t “fail” because I wasn’t here when a package arrived so I won’t have it for a meeting tomorrow AM. Â Instead, I will run it over to their office when I pick it up from the Post Office. No problem and everyone will get what they need. If I push a button on a piece of software and it doesn’t do what I expect or what someone has told me it will do, it isn’t a personal FAIL, it is something external that isn’t about me. (I was recently told a class I taught was afraid to “fail” when learning a new set of software tools).
So the real question becomes, am I wrong? Is this not how to look at failure and everyone else looks at it differently? Â I would love to know how others view this because all this talk of failure is freaking me out!