Laying on the floor sobbing, curled in the fetal position, the reality sank in that everything Martin had worked so hard for was gone. His trust had been violated, his life savings that he invested with his partner in an overseas venture, spent.
Martin Howey, President of TopLine Business Solutions, realized as painful as this moment was that he had to rebuild. This failure was actually an opportunity to rebirth a business that would be based on solid ground – and today he is one of the most respected, well-liked and brilliant minds in business.
Key Observation #1: When an business venture “fails” it’s often an opportunity to re-invent ourselves into something more powerful, profitable and satisfying.
What you do when you experience a failure is the key to triumph, according to my Big Idea Incubator Expert Panel. I invited four amazing entrepreneur success stories to help coach and mentor the participants at my Big Idea Incubator Experience and it was one of the highlights of the program. Once I asked the question "What was your biggest failure and how did it help you in business?" to each panel member (including myself) the audience was riveted.
According to mortgage industry success story, Fred Arnold, President of American Family Funding and former president of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals, “Failures don’t exist in my mind.”
Fred shared how in the early 90-‘s as he was just getting started, the real estate market collapsed. At the time, Fred was newly married and felt the weight of getting sales even more. Instead of focusing on what wasn’t working, he turned his attention to how to use this failure to fuel his opportunities.
Key Point #2: By changing our definition of failure our mind can see opportunities where before we only saw a bleak future.
When I woke up in my $1,000 a night suite at the Ritz Carlton looking out over the Pacific Ocean I was in a daze. I should be happy. I’m in paradise. Instead I was filled with dread. My live event had flopped for numerous reasons and my business was in chaos. Everything I had worked so hard to build was falling apart faster than I could blink an eye. The word “failure” kept popping through my head and shame permeated every fiber of my being.
As I unraveled the mess and took a hard look at how the heck I got there, I realized a profound insight about my predicament. This failure had taught me how to have empathy and compassion for others who were in this space. I’d never experienced a failure before. I had no idea how to coach someone who had lost everything and had to start over. I didn’t know what it felt like to be betrayed or to have thousands of dollars disappear due to the collapse of the banking industry.
As I released my story of being a failure and embraced the possibility that I was being cauterized for a greater purpose, I began to have a clearer vision of how to rebuild my business to serve the planet.
Key Point #3: Hard times don’t define you, your choices, reactions and habits do. You can chose to use challenges to grow or to become paralyzed but ultimately, you choose.
If we look at a failure, challenge or frustration as an opportunity to heal, to grow and to become even more aligned with our real purpose, then could we actually embrace failure?