If you know me, you know I am kind of, no extremely, obsessed with Sara Blakely. I’ve heard her say that every day she came home her dad would say – “Hey hun! How did you fail today?”
He encouraged failure because he knew it meant she was one step closer to winning. He encouraged her to fail a lot and to fail quickly.
I recently read something about people persevering through failures and I was so inspired.
“George Washington lost two thirds of all the battles he fought but won the Revolutionary War. Abraham Lincoln suffered nine election defeats, the death of a spouse, a nervous breakdown and 2 bankruptcies before becoming president of the United States. Oprah was told she wasn’t fit for television and was fired from her job as a news anchor. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for lack of ideas. Dr. Seuss wanted to burn the manuscript of his first book after it was rejected by 27 publishers. Steven Spielberg wasn’t accepted to UCLA film school because of average grades. Phil Knight was on the brink of bankruptcy with Nike for over 10 years and routinely didn’t know if the company could make payroll. Steve Jobs was fired from apple at age 30.”
Does that blow your mind as much as it does mine?!? I mean, wow.
So, I’ve decided to take some time and think through my own failures that I am proud of.
1. ALL. THINGS. SCHOOL.
I will never forget sitting in my basement with my own whiteboard on a Friday night learning the periodic table. I was in 7th grade. I was so mad at my parents for making me study. My friend’s parents didn’t even know they had a test on Monday. I studied and studied and studied. I got a C, while everyone else that didn’t study got an A+ with no problem.
I think I made some of the lowest ACT and SAT scores. It’s not that I didn’t try. I went to tutor after tutor after tutor. I did so many practice tests. I studied my heart out. And, still, barely made it. I got into UGA by a MIRACLE. I think it had a lot to do with my involvement in clubs and volunteering. Or they got my application accidentally switched with someone else’s. I remember seeing people that were WAY more academically advanced than me not getting in… I almost felt guilty.
I continued to struggle in college. I had to come home and get tutored by my high school teacher for college pre calculus while all my other friends were already in regular calculus. I still didn’t do well. I had to drop my fashion merchandising major because I couldn’t handle economics or accounting. I dropped communications because I couldn’t get through statistics. Don’t be fooled – I went to office hours and extra help every opportunity I could. I worked so hard.
I ended up in Family Development. It was full of football players because it was ‘a joke’. Aka – very easy. Thankfully, I actually really enjoyed the classes. I think it’s where my love of people developed. We learned about all different kinds of ages, relationships, parenting techniques and psychology. I still worked very hard and graduated – *insert praise hands*
My hard work and determination was born through this journey. I never in a million years would’ve said that in high school or college. But now, I can sit here and say that I am so glad I didn’t do well in school easily.
2. My first speaking opportunity.
It was in my last job and I was in charge of about 300 volunteers. We had a meeting with everyone and I was supposed to ‘cast vision.’ I was in charge of inspiring them for giving so much of their time and hearts to serve each and every week. I practiced a little, but not even close to what I should’ve done.
I got up in front of everyone and I got light headed. The papers in my hands were trembling. My voice was shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t look up one time. I couldn’t even finish my talk. I just walked out of the room and into a storage closet and tears started to fill my eyes.
Later that day, everyone came up to me telling me, “it’s ok! No one noticed!” I thought – if no one noticed why have 20 people come up to me to tell me that no one noticed.
I called my dad on the way home and he invited me to Toastmasters.
I went once, saw the value, and never looked back.
Now, speaking is a huge part of my job.
3. My first business.
I could not sell anything. I was trying and ‘sharing’ and ‘connecting’ but not selling. I had no income coming in. I was so close to giving up. I was going to work somewhere temporarily until I was ready to have a baby and then stay home.
I was depressed, I lacked passion and purpose. I was confused and unhappy.
And then I learned sales training and EVERYTHING changed. I would’ve never been receptive or motivated to buy-in to the training if I hadn’t failed.
These are just a few of the many failures I have experienced. I am no longer embarrassed of my failures. I am thrilled and proud of them. I plan to continue to fail. And I am pretty jazzed about it.