(False Awareness Indicating Loss)
“Wherever you go, there you are”
In business, success is king. In the martial arts world, the big billing and marketing companies teach success principles. It’s the core of what they do and focus on. Success is taught in all the business schools everywhere. Success = Money = Happiness. There are 1000’s of books on becoming a success, being successful, and how to have success in the future. Books like “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Magic of Getting What you Want” are examples of some of these. But what about FAILURE? What happens to us when we fail? Or what do we do if we fail? What’s next? Failure is one aspect of being successful. If you’re successful at something and you have never failed at it, how do you respond if you do fail? Is failure final? Or permanent? Or painful?. When I was running my martial arts business, I did all the right things to make it successful. I followed the formulas and advice of the master’s and professionals. I DID WHAT THEY TOLD ME. They knew how to do it. They said I couldn’t go wrong. I listened to all of them. So what happened? Why did I fail? Why? What happened? There is surprise and shock especially to the person that fails. When you are drowning, every attempt at trying to stay afloat is done out of fear and the will to live. You are trying to live and grab unto something that will save your life. The same is true when we are experiencing losing or failing. The word FAIL is a four-letter word that we don’t like to use that often. When we do, it’s in a derogatory way. Some of us, do not ask the right questions when we fail. We are so preoccupied with the failure or the “loss” that we are not introspect about the situation at all. Why would we? It’s the reaction that we know. It’s what we have been taught. Failure is bad, Success is good. But what about failing? What really happens when we fail? After many years of thinking about my successes and failures, I felt that writing about my business failure (in 2004) was what I should address, not only to myself, but to others who might have been or are in a similar situation. The word FAIL means False Awareness Indicating Loss. It’s not the final answer (as Regis Philbin) would ask the contestant. In fact, it’s a transition. We don’t look at failure that way. Maybe some do, I didn’t. We cannot see the next step or the next phase in the process. In fact, some may never see it. They quit or stop trying. Who could blame them? To fail is painful (mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially). To fail means I MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG. Didn’t I? I must not have followed the right steps or formula. How can business people, church leaders, politicians, etc learn to continue after suffering a major failure? Is there a place one can go to help you? When my business suffered financial loss, friends and staff didn’t understand what I was trying to do. Not only was I losing my business, but I lost some of my friends, too. They simply stopped coming around. That was another crushing blow to my emotional state. Why aren't my friends helping me? Nobody likes to fail at anything. All the business people that I knew and have read about, take their business personally. If they fail at it, then that shakes them at a deep, personal level. Business people have their livelihoods, self-esteem, and self-worth tied to their businesses. Thomas Edison and Chuck Norris looked at failure differently than most people do. Chuck Norris looked at losing a fight as another rung on the ladder to the top. Thomas Edison looked at failure as another way of "not" doing something to get a desired result. William A. Ward said that "failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker". Dr. John C. Maxwell from his article Failure is not final (www.newteacheruniversity.com), has five observations that we as business people should do when failure looks us in the face. 1. Focus on success, not failure. When you think about failure often, your chances of failure have then increased. Really try and move on. 2. Treat failures as friends, not foes. Show me someone who hasn't failed at something, and I'll show you someone who hasn't done anything. "Trying is more important than not failing" observes Dr. Maxwell. 3. View failure as momentary, not monumental. Not letting momentary mistakes keep you from long-term growth is vital to your success. 4. Have successful failures, not failed successes. Experience should teach you, not stop or derail you. 5. See failures as fresh opportunities, not final defeats. When we change our "attitude" about failure, we see through the lens differently. How do we change our attitude? Step back and take inventory. Look around and really see what is going on? Who is still there with you? Take notes and possibly journal your thoughts and feelings about this event. It will help later on. Dr. Maxwell goes on to state that "failing to try is the greatest failure anyone can experience". Asking the right questions will help you gain an understanding on how to move forward. First ask, "What is going on? Is it solvable? Secondly, "How can I make the situation better?" Third, "Should I continue to try and save this or, is it better to let go?" Fourth, "Is there someone I can talk to?" a family member?, an associate?, a friend?, etc. Talking to someone (outside this event) could give you valuable insight that you might not of thought of or had seen. Never underestimate just plain, simple talking to someone might help relieve some of the stress and give you a new outlook about what to do now and in the future. When I had experienced my business failure, I talked with a friend about it and saw that there were "events" going on that I wasn't aware of. It gave me real insight into never assuming that things are ok, just because they "look" ok. Micro-managing isn't a good business practice, but you need to be aware of your "surroundings" or all aspects of your business at all times. Dina Kucera, in her book, Everything I never wanted to be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor (Dream of Things, 2010) puts it another way by saying "...You cannot function in the world without knowing how to respond to losing. It's the same as hearing the word "no". It's every day of our lives.." I know that for the longest time, I was "crippled" at the thought of how and why I failed. I couldn't see that it might be due to circumstances beyond my control. Was it possible that I really couldn't control or manipulate the outcome? Sometimes we can't. I needed to surrender to that possibility, while at the same time moving forward and never stop trying. Finally, after years of thought and personal insight to those "dark" times of my life, I realize that failure is the fertilizer that makes the plant of success grow. No matter what, keep your faith and your vision intact!
© Bob Chester, 2012
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