Having interviewed 150+ successful entrepreneurs about their #GreatMistake, I’ve come across a lot of Business Failure. It comes in many forms, and each business failure has its own reason and rhyme. One mistake that seems to end in it each time is something we’re all programmed to strive for. I am. You are. Society is.
In many ways it’s a great mindset to have, but it also happens to be damn poisonous and dangerous.
Now when I say business failure, I don’t mean a business has to fail and file for bankruptcy. Some mistakes do lead to this, and although it’s rarely the end of the entrepreneur, it can often be the end of an idea… project… one particular dream.
You don’t want this. You don’t wish to go through this pain. I’ve listened to dozens-upon-dozens of unique mistake-riddled stories from successful entrepreneurs, and although they’re different and cover and array of mistakes and business failure, this one particular aspect sneaks its way in time-and-time again.
So do yourself a favour, and avoid it all costs.
THE CHASE OF PERFECTION AND THE PAIN OF BUSINESS FAILURE
I suffer with this damn silly pursuit. I desire perfect writing. Flawless books. Work that works, and ensures people walk away saying, “Wow, you can’t get any better than this.”
I know I know, I’m a ridiculous boy with crazy daydreams, and I must learn to overcome such ideals. If I don’t, I’ll suffer through business failure many-many times.
Because perfection doesn’t exist. We forever want more. It’s why our pursuit of perfection is fantastic in many ways, because it pushes us and motivates us to be better and bigger and worthier. For this reason it’s wonderful, but the key is to realise it’s all a crazy dream.
Push for perfection by all means, but understand you’ll never reach it.
The way I see it, you have one of two choices:
The first is to be the donkey whose carrot dangles before her face, and who strives for it in belief she can get it… one day… maybe today… one day soon… until there are no days left.
On the other hand, you can choose to be the donkey who realises the dangling carrot only exists to keep your attention, keep you moving, and motivate you to go faster… push a little harder… until you win the race.
Because you know what awaits the winner at the end of the race, right? Oh yes, a pile of carrots you can live happily-ever-after in.
THE PURUSIT OF KNOWLEDGE: WITH JEN GRESHAM
Having interviewed 150+ inspiring entrepreneurs for The Successful Mistake, I’ve a treasure trove of stories to share with the world. I love sharing them too, and I adore spreading Jennifer Gresham’s fine tale; an entrepreneur who’s smart… a doctor… a scientist… someone with a military background.
She’s a person with skills, yet not even Jen’s immune to perfection’s seduction.
I remember speaking to her like it was yesterday, the way she painted her startup picture, and how she revelled in near overnight success. Building an audience, they loved her. Launching a course, they bought it. Thousands of dollars flowed into her bank account, but just as much slipped out again.
It wasn’t because of overheads or refunds or the tax man, but because she didn’t think she was good enough. She wasn’t perfect. She didn’t know enough about business and entrepreneurial success, so business failure awaited around the corner. She could smell it. She feared it. She fought it with one course after another, spending thousands in the pursuit to learn and become worthy.
Just a little more info. A tad more wisdom. If she spoke to this person, or got this piece of paper, she’d be ready.
Just like Srinivas Rao thought he would if he got his business school degree. Or how Debbie Millman figured if she worked in the corporate world for a while, her dreams would become easier to attain.
You delay action in the pursuit of perfection, but it’s all down to fear and trepidation. Chase perfection by all means, but never let it consume you. You’ll never reach it. It forever dangles just out of reach.
PERFECTION THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS: WITH MARIANNE CANTWELL
Marine Cantwell’s chipper tones and bright-yellow persona seduced me within seconds. A girl with personality and a certain sense of style, it’s this what attracted me to her in the first place, and why I asked her to be part of The Successful Mistake.
You can imagine how surprised I was then, when she shared a story about her early days in business, and how she dressed different… acted different… sold different… was different.
Trying to conform to someone else’s version of perfection, she struggled to gain any semblance of success. Business failure awaited her like it did Jen Gresham, because she didn’t enjoy herself. She didn’t like her work or what she was doing. Working for herself, but to what extent when she dressed like she had to, spoke like she had to, acted like others wanted her to – at least, how she thought they wanted her to….
She strove for perfection defined by another. Fitting into a round hole despite her square appearance, she chased perfection until she couldn’t chase it no more.
Due to fear again? Maybe. Or possibly down to other people’s conflicting advice, or what you learn at business school or college or from your last boss. Other people’s perfection… the worst kind if you ask me.
At least the chase of perfection defined by you has the power to motivate. What does other people’s bring to the table, other than a suffocating grasp.
LOSING YOUR MIND WITHIN YOUR OWN MIND: WITH FRASER DOHERTY
And then there’s losing yourself within yourself, like a young fifteen-year-old Fraser Doherty did – striving to turn his grandma’s jam recipe into a bonafide business venture.
A young go-getter if ever I’ve met one, and someone I loved chatting to. A guy with vision and drive. A young man with talent layered on top of talent. But rewind a few years and business failure loomed, the big meeting he spent a year preparing for slipping through his fingertips.
Week-after-week, month-after-month, he perfected the Superjam brand. The buyers would love it. They’d get it. They’d knock down his door and demand to stock his awesome jam. Placing so much time and love into the brand, he tweaked it and perfected it, but come his day of reckoning, they replied with silence.
Left to your own devices, you strive for inner perfection. As a writer I do this all the time. I remember for my second novel, TICK to the TOCK, I perfected the first draft knowing I’d cracked it. I knew my editor would read it, love it, and send it back with barely any red ink in sight.
Yet when she did, I couldn’t see the words for all the fluorescent alterations, deletions, and overall questions. I’d perfected it in my mind, but this means little in reality. Rather than perfect, I should have sent it weeks earlier. Instead of waiting for the BIG meeting, Fraser should have set up a few smaller ones… practice ones… a chance to see just how imperfect his own perfection was.
We lose ourself within ourself, and when you combine this with perfection, we play a dangerous game indeed.
PERFECTION = BUSINESS FAILURE
I continue to strive for perfection each day, but I appreciate I’ll never reach it – or ever come close.
It doesn’t exist. If you assume it does, and chase it and chase it and chase it some more, business failure awaits. In the same way the donkey runs out of steam, your business runs dry and stutters into nothing.
BUT you can turn it around, just like Jen, Srini, Fraser, Marriane, and Debbie did. Jen reached a stage of no more, refusing to sign up to a new course, and instead invested her money in help and talent, so she could compliment her own skills and grow in due course.
Srini stopped chasing external qualifications, and focussed on inner meaning and joy. Debbie gave into her fear, and took control of her dreams and destiny.
Marianne conformed to herself, ensuring she didn’t chase society’s version of perfection. As soon as she did, business failure manifested into business success, and bit-by-bit she un-layered freedom, happiness, and the chipper persona I know her and love.
And Fraser escaped his mind and involved others, listening to buyers and mentors and those around him. They didn’t just create a good brand, but a great one.
Business failure comes in many forms, and mistakes in every size imaginable. Some are bigger than others, but one sure way to delve down a fruitless road is to chase perfection under the assumption you can reach it. This in The Successful Mistake a lot, so join me for this adventure and change your mindset for forever.
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