Why We Fail…. When I first became enamored with the idea of being an entrepreneur, oddly enough, I wasn’t using the word “entrepreneur”. I hadn’t identified with it yet.
I was the type of person who for years and years, kept her nose in the personal growth and spiritual development nook of the book store. So, when I happened upon the famous (or possibly, infamous) book, The Secret, it was not unusual for me to become intrigued. It had been out for years but was only a vague memory for me in terms of having heard it get a lot of press at one time. I truly didn’t know what it was about.
But standing there in my local public library, with a fresh new stack of old books, and my 1 and a half year old son grabbing onto my knee, I picked it up – the audio cd version and added it to my stack. (As a new mom, I rarely found or made time for reading physical hard copies of books any longer and stuck almost exclusively at this point to what I could listen to in the car.)
Now, it’s been over 3 years since that fateful day when I picked up that astonishing book, and I’ve been in enough metaphysical and internet marketing circles since then to know that many people have great disdain for it – and it’s message.
The Secret teaches that life circumstances ARE actually within your power. That you can change your reality based on your thoughts and emotions.
For me, coming from a belief that we are in our purest form, energy and that all materials are energy, it was not only enlightening, but also a relief to know that it is all connected. That our thoughts are energy. That there is a law that governs how events unfold in our lives. That there is even connection to a higher power or God. And most amazingly, that there are connections between the Bible, which I was taught heavily as a child, and this concept of the secret, or law of attraction.
I’m the kind of person who WANTS to believe. I positively LOVE new information, new insights, new ways of thinking. But I am admittedly somewhat, what my husband would say gullible. Or he may say that I believe things a little too easily. It’s true, I am a type of person who really, really wants to believe.
In magic. In explanations for the universe…. even though my willingness to believe may be perceived as a bit child-like. (Child-like faith is not necessarily a bad thing.) In a new understanding of the bible version that, “Ask as it shall be given,” and “As a man thinks, so he is,” and “According to your faith, be it unto you,” and countless more – and something finally clicked for me.
Jesus said, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Yes. This makes sense. We are meant to live well, to live abundantly. And it’s not about suffering here on earth so that we may prosper once we are dead and in heaven.
Actually, we are born in a material, physical world in the first place, and require the material, physical world to live – to eat, to be clothed, to furnish, to transport, to play, to work.
If material is what we are given to need to survive, why should we not be allowed to thrive in these material possessions as well?
Obviously, I would never, ever argue the point that material possessions or riches are the purpose of life. How absurd. It is much deeper than that, and I employ a number of personal life choices, such as prayer, meditation and nature as ways to connect with my spirit. But it was so thrilling to think that I, someone who had spent much of her life in ‘victimhood thinking’ actually had power in this world.
That I was not at the mercy of a pitiful pleading, desperate prayer to a potentially wrathful God, regarding life, hardships, and pleasures.
That we are in constant communication with God through our thoughts and emotions. That we are in a continually prayer based on our beliefs about what is true for us in our lives. That he is always answering based on the ‘signal’ we are sending to him.
Worry – planting a prayer of chaos.
Gratitude – planting a prayer of abundance.
What is all of this to do with entrepreneurship and even failing for that matter?
Actually – everything.
You know, I’ve heard millionaire gurus say that “thoughts are things” is crap. Sitting on their couch and thinking about success didn’t get them there and they feel they want the credit for the work they put in.
Yes, of course. But as Jim Rohn says, (and I’m paraphrasing) – You need more than just the sun and the seed and the soil and the rain – you need a gardener. But your own garden should bring you joy and pleasure, and if it doesn’t, then it becomes a LOT OF WORK.
The concept of the law of attraction was that your actions wouldn’t feel like work because you’d be following signs from the universe that were attracted to you by virtue of your new thoughts.
I’m telling you all of this because I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur. I was a teacher. Pretty good one, I think. I loved it. Then, a stay at home mom. A darned good one, I think. I REALLY loved it.
When I came across this ‘change your life book’ I was already actually pretty happy.
But I also knew I’d need to head back to full-time employment soon – something that broke my heart, as the mom of a toddler.
With this new information, I fell hook, line and sinker. I believed.
I had an almost instantaeous child-like faith that I really could have, do and be what I wanted. Wow! What a thought!
I’d never even contemplated the possibility of being a millionaire before. Was it really possible? Could I really have that? What else could I do? What could my life truly look like, if anything was possible?
This excited me to no end.
This is the part where I fast-forward sections of the story. This is not a book, after all. You see, those early notions of abundance mentality helped me to dive deeper and deeper into new authors, new speakers, new mentors… I found Jim Rohn, Ernest Holmes, Eckhart Tolle, Zig Ziglar, Bob Proctor and even Pat Flynn.
I was so inspired by Pat Flynn that I took immediate action. Building my first niche website. Writing blog posts with Google AdSense. Writing articles, a Kindle e-book, and more. It was a wild ride fueled simply by belief and enthusiasm.
That enthusiastic energy was tangible and strong. And it fueled me through many late nights ‘schooling myself’ in tutorials, youtube videos and blog posts on how-to create passive income, residual income and ultimately life a life of freedom, coupled with generosity for others.
Many things transpired during that time, including my training as a coach at Duke Integrative Medicine (something I had written down on my Vision list early on). Life had been good, and now it was getting better.
Was I a millionaire overnight? Of course not – because I didn’t believe I could be. 😉
I thought it was believable for me to become a millionaire within 5 years, and I made a plan for it.
I didn’t know how. But I knew it would come.
When I think back to those days a few years ago when I set that intention, I was so jet-powered for it all. My mind was sharp and clear. I almost bounced into my internet marketing meetings. There was a powerful energy generated within me that I can only explain as wide-eyed, and yes, child-like.
We tell our children when they are young, that they can do anything they want in this world.
Then we spend the next 20 years telling them all the reasons why they can’t do certain things. Why they have to follow the rules of status quo. Why life is hard.
I had tossed all those ideas aside, and life was flowing, really flowing for me.
But something puzzled me. As I dove more and more into business-oriented books and speakers, I began to hear this word ‘failure’ a lot.
It’s amazing how much everyone talks about it. I think it is because so many people have failed in entrepreneurship and we feel the need to not only explain it, but to encourage each other to persevere.
Failure is part of the human psyche. It doesn’t have to be, but it is.
It’s kind of like, when you don’t know how to do something, like play guitar and you’re just learning, you may come up with new, unusual or beautiful ways of playing. But once you’ve been immersed in the guitar community of musicians for a few years, you get conditioned to certain rules and expectations of playing.
This analogy can be applied to any profession I can think of. Outside of the social conditioning of the group (take teaching for example) you may have new energy, bright innovative ideas and new concepts on how to do things well. But after a few years in the system, you begin to realize it is a big machine where you can truly effect little change.
You learn the rules, the guidelines, the ropes and attend all the necessary, sometimes painful, meetings – and eventually, you can get quite pessimistic about the whole system.
The decades old energy that swirls so forcefully and with such regularity, you can no longer envision how to interrupt it, much less improve it.
Thought leaders talk about failure.
Visionaries talk about failure.
Mentors, speakers, coaches – all talk about failure.
Business leaders and Entrepreneur magazine give you failure stats.
So for me, coming from this blissful place of ‘anything is possible to him that believes’, so powerful, so innocent, so RIGHT – hearing this failure message from my favorite and most-respected mentors began to seep into my psychology.
Bit by bit at first, but then suddenly all at once.
What began to me at the first years of true success (my first six-figure business in 2014 replaced my previous salary income making me IMMENSELY happy), and inklings of success that were just enough to excite me and keep me going, now began to get chipped away.
When the first thing goes wrong, you keep the faith. Work to fix it. Keep your mind clear.
But there’s a little voice in your head that starts to worry.
As pressure builds, from whichever side of your life it comes, (income worries, most often) the stakes begin to feel higher. You feel you need to work harder. Faith chips away, slowly, slowly. You almost don’t realize it’s happening, except you are beginning to feel a bit tired.
“Why isn’t this working?”, you might begin to think. Or at least I did. And, “What am I doing wrong?”, is about the worst mantra you could ever adopt. I don’t recommend it. But that’s where my mind went.
I remember at one time around year 2.5 into the entrepreneurial world, crying so desperately to myself that I looked into the mirror and said the ugliest most nasty things I could have ever said. You know those terrible thoughts we sometimes think and say about ourselves, in the privacy of our own minds.
The unkind things we would NEVER dare say to a stranger, but we’ll say to ourselves with a vengeance.
“You are a failure.” “How could you ever think you could do this? A millionaire? Ha! Try just getting by. What do you think you’re special or something? You’re not special. You’re so f-ing stupid. How could you be so stupid? I freaking hate this. I hate my life.”
If you’ve never thought those words about yourself, that is a true blessing. I never thought that I would – however, in truth, coming from having had depression, intermittently though sometimes intense, over the span of my life, I’d be lying if I said I’d never had a dreadful, hateful self-thought similar to that.
Now, this has gotten a bit intense, right? I mean, most people don’t let you inside the inner walls of their psyche. And how had I gone from pie-eyed to despised in a span of just a few years?
We let in external factors. We let in self-doubt. We are bombarded by negativity (which is why I rarely watch the news) through television shows, newspaper articles and maybe even a gossiping neighbor.
How do you maintain the faith of a child in today’s world? And is it really necessary in order to be successful?
Well, one, I’m not sure we can. And two, of course not. You don’t have to be doe-eyed to be successful. But dang, it sure helps. And people love you. People gravitate to you when you are this positive. Not fake, just be a positive-thinker bullshit, but deep down a truly grateful, optimistic and happy person. People are drawn to it like a magnet. It’s a beautiful, empowering energy.
My dip into the ugly failure talk only happened once or twice to that degree. You know what Abraham Hicks says about situations like that when you feel you are spiraling out of control and everything is awful… “What do you do when you are falling out of a plane at 30,000 feet with no parachute? Just hang on a second, it will be over in a minute.”
I do find that humorous, and remembering it lifts me when I’m down.
The next day, we rise up again. And so did I. I have a lot of resources to lift myself higher, and sometimes it’s personal and internal, and sometimes I rely on kind friends, family and colleagues. We are not islands.
Why Do We Fail?
I think it’s because of faulty programming. I think it’s because somewhere inside of us, we begin to believe that failure is normal. That it is to be expected. That others have, many times, again and again, so why should we be different? We believe failure is possible. And so it is.
And we think as entrepreneurs, it is almost a badge of honor. We turn our failures into success stories. We do this sometimes innocently. We want to inspire others. Sometimes we do this for self-gain – i.e. Facebook ads.
Wow, the number of ads I’ve seen where the headline reads something like, “I was $120k in debt after 5 years in business, but this is how I turned it around – and now you can too,” kind of stories. Or maybe it’s anecdotal. “When I was 8 I opened my first lemonade stand and it failed miserably. I went on to have 12 failing business ventures and finally succeeded at age 38 – now I’m a billionaire.”
I LOVE most of these people. They are my peeps. Online entrepreneurs who dream big. I’m one of them. There are lots of individual reasons why we fail. And we all know the sayings about perseverance being paramount in entrepreneurship. Try again, and try again and try again – and then try again.
Or the famous quote, “I have not failed. I have just found 1,000 ways that do not work,” from Thomas Edison. We know that some of the most historic figures and innovators come from this degree of perseverance.
I think if we believed more – had the true magic of believing – maybe we wouldn’t need 1,000 ways or 20 years to find success.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you may know this already. I’ve heard Tony Robbins speak about success many times. He believes you need skill, so learn the business strategies you need. This cannot be overlooked. You need footprints – find someone who is super successful at what you want to do, and immerse yourself. And if you have these two things and you’re still not successful over time- then there is something else missing. There is something within you that is not personally aligning.
Whether it be spiritual, emotional, mental or mindset shifts – something is off. That’s why he, and I and most everybody will tell you success is a big internal game.
You don’t have to believe in the magic of the universe to be successful. Of course not. But when I did believe, my life flowed with ease. And when I lost that belief through doubt or worry or fear or the barrage of societal inputs that tell you about ‘reality’, entrepreneurship became much harder.
The first years, I had no strong disciplines. I didn’t keep a journal. I didn’t meditate. I didn’t do miracle mornings. I worked from an energy of flow, of passion, of excitement, of awesomeness, of faith.
When I fell out of the flow, I resorted to disciplines – must do these 7 things every morning in order to be successful. #1 Write my goals #2 Affirmations #3 yada yada. I have to laugh out loud here, because in truth, I do love those disciplines.
I think the disciplines really serve to structure us and bolster us when the belief of magic is lacking. Faith is the most powerful thing we own. With it, we can move proverbial mountains. When it is lacking, we use tools and strategies as a foundation. Its not that one is not good and the other bad. They are different ways of climbing the mountain.
I am so grateful for the times in a day when my eyes fill with tears from true gratitude and joy in my life. The way my, now 5 year old son, laughs. The color of the fall leaves. An email from someone who was inspired by something I wrote or said. This is the magical place I wish I could live all the time.
Life doesn’t have to be hard. But sometimes it is. And why we are put here on this earth I do not know. But I suspect it has something to be with being creators. And we create what we love with love.
I wish I could erase the word failure from my mental vocabulary. Someone once said, the reason we age and get older is because we see others aging and getting older. We have the expectation that that is what will happen to us and so it does. Very metaphysical stuff, I suppose, but that’s kind of my bag.
Why do we fail?
You have a different answer, I know it… Tell me
UPDATE** Here it is 1/1/17 and I just clicked through to a youtube video from Gabrielle Bernstein. I clicked it because as professional and successful as she is, this video looked like it was super natural. Like it was her in her home, in the morning, with messy hair, speaking off the cuff – and I really needed to see that.
You know, when you start putting yourself ‘out there’ with videos and podcasts, etc. you tend to get a little self-conscious about the way you present yourself. So, I was pleasantly surprised to her all-natural self giving a youtube talk.
I’m a few minutes into the video, which is awesome by the way, and her main message is “When you are feeling helpless, help someone.” I wasn’t feeling helpless or down at the time of this video, but it’s such a powerful lesson that I’m going to file that one away and remember it.
She’s so transparent and genuine, speaking about how self-doubt and comparisons creep into her mind… how the ego re-surfaces.
Then, she opens it up to questions (it was originally done on periscope). The first question was about business. “How do you get over failure of your business?” And what Gabrielle said instantly brought tears to my eyes. I’m talking very well bawling, pausing the video, just crying my heart out.
What did she say? Something simple and true.
“I think we should trust that when something in our business fails, it’s because another door is meant to open.”
This just sums up where I’ve been for these last months perfectly.
And while painful at times – for sure – it can lead to even more beauty. So, here I am. The Truth About Living is that door for me.
I’m so grateful you are here.
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