Is Failure Ever An Option?

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Yes, and overcoming the fear of failure may even be a first step for success.

I’ve often heard successful people say “Failure was not an option.” I understand the thinking and I, too, have said it. In fact, when I started my scheduling company I told myself that failure was not an option. I needed the business to work out for me and my family. I worked my butt off and poured everything I had into my company. I worked long hours almost every day and it worked. My company thrived, even during the down times in the financial industry, it just kept growing and growing and we’re still growing. I’m having so much fun running my business and I want to do more. I want to help even more people! But was failure an option? I felt that it was not for me for this business venture but had I tried other things in the past and failed? Of course I did!

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This morning I looked back on the things that I DID fail at and realized that had I not failed at those things I wouldn’t have the company I have today. I wouldn’t have made all the past mistakes and learned all the past lessons. I also wouldn’t have had the passion and determination to make this company as successful as it’s become. So in essence failure should at times be an option and it should almost be necessary. Of course we don’t know when those times may be but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much when we do fail. It’s like falling off a horse. You get up, brush yourself off and jump back on.

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A few years before I started my company I worked for a very successful financial advisor. He taught me more than he’ll ever know about business and I will be eternally grateful to him. Not only did he teach me a lot about passion, goal-setting and running a business he filled the walls of all of the office spaces in his buildings (yes, he had multiple buildings) with motivational and inspirational art work. He had this huge portrait of Abraham Lincoln in his conference room that I often think about when I think of failure. (The bold below denotes failure or tragedy.)

Abraham Lincoln(s)

lost his job in 1832.

was defeated for legislature in 1832.

failed in business in 1833.

was elected to legislature in 1834.

sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died in 1835.

had nervous breakdown in 1836.

was defeated for Speaker in 1838.

was defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843.

lost renomination in US-Congress in 1848.

was rejected for Land Officer in 1849.

was defeated for Senate in 1854.

was defeated for nomination for Vice-President in1856.

was defeated again for Senate in 1858.

was elected President of USA in 1860.

There is a lot of bold above! That man just kept jumping back on that horse. He was kicked time and time again while he was down but he just kept getting back up. He was not going to give up. His failures were what made him succeed.

Need more failure-to-success stories. Here they are!

Bill Gates was a Harvard drop-out and failed business co-owner of Traf-O-Data before launching Microsoft.

Dick Cheney flunked out of Yale twice and later become Vice-President of the United States.

At age 22, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “not being creative enough” and one of his early ventures Laugh-o-gram studios went bankrupt.

In 1923, Babe Ruth set the record for the most home runs in a season … while also striking out more than any other player in the MLB.

It took Thomas Edison 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb.

So failure is an option and it’s not so scary, right? We are human, we all make mistakes and at one time or another, we’ve all failed. So when you are down, get up, brush yourself off and go at it again because …

“You’ll never know what you can’t achieve, until you don’t achieve it.”

Mr. Gordon, 21 Jump Street

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