Failure - a word that's been in the news quite often recently. In the last 3 weeks we’ve seen Eliot Spitzer step down as governor of New York State – in one of the most high profile scandals of all time - and Bear Stearns, the 6th largest investment bank in the US collapsed after 85 years as a financial powerhouse.
As a business owner, I dread the prospect of failure, especially when I hear statistics like 1/3 of new businesses fail in the first 2 years, and then there's all that talk of our economy going into recession.
On any given day I make at least 2-3 decisions – some of them work some of them don’t. But according to Barry Moltz, author of Bounce, The True Path To Business Confidence, what's important is that you let go of the successes and failures, and just keep moving forward. It's not about bouncing back, because sometimes you don't come back to the same place. It's just bouncing - being flexible and not getting stuck analyzing what happened to death.
"We are taught that there is always something to learn from failure. We are told that the only reason failure “comes” is to teach us something. Sometimes when we fail there is nothing to learn- it just stinks. Failure is only valuable when we see it as part of the entire learning cycle even when there is not always something to learn," explains Barry.
When I asked him recently what the motivation was behind the book, he said he was tired of all those business books that promise "5 steps to success" and push us into a quest for that "magic formula". He says that true business confidence comes from riding success and failures, and developing resiliency.
Here are three tips he gives in his book:
Strive For Minimal AchievementWill Eliot Spitzer bounce? What about Bear Stearns? Barry, veteran of a few bounces himself, says yes. "Most people do if they keep taking action. Martha Stewart did. Spitzer will reincarnate in another form and the people of Bears Stearns will find other jobs and will be pushed to other opportunities they may not have looked at before," he adds.
There is incredible power we can get in business by striving for minimal achievement—focusing on being great at a few things at a time. This is becoming increasingly difficult as we are raising a generation of attention deficit individuals. When was the last time you did one thing at a time? Focus gives power. This does mean that if our customers ask us to shift our business and it is profitable, we should not try to accomplish this. Many businesses start out providing one product or service and morph into a different business. We need to remain focused on doing a few things well but always be open to new ways that our business can change and grow.
Downsize Your Dreams
In business, we are always told to conquer that mountain. Do what you love and the money will follow. Have No Fear. Failure is not an option. Success will breed more success. And we start to believe it. But we are many times disappointed because we don’t get there. We feel let down. We feel like a failure. We feel that maybe we are not working hard enough! We get frozen and paralyzed. To move past this, we need to downsize our dreams. We need to realize the successful companies are built one customer at a time and one employee at a time. Speed kills. Figure out what success looks like for us in addition to money. What is our "money plus" goal? What will make us happily successful?
Too Much Money Makes You Stupid
Everyone must eventually deal with limited resources. Accept it—limited resources are a fact of life. Sometimes we get into the “if only we had” game, where we decide that if we only had this resource—skills, training, the right people, new intellectual property, or (the big one) more money, then our success would be guaranteed.
This is delusional. There will always be something you lack in your business.
Making a go of it with whatever resources you have at a particular point in time is the nature of business; scarcity can be a competitive advantage and the barrier to entry that makes you more successful as you learn to operate lean and mean.
Are you ready to bounce? Check out Barry's "Bounce Video Challenge" - he's giving away $1000 to the winning entry. I'd love to see one from Eliot!