Wouldn’t it be great if every time you worked hard on something, you succeeded?
Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough”
– every motivational speaker, ever.
But let’s get real. The likelihood of everything going right (and exactly as expected) is slim to none. Even the Wright Brothers weren’t successful at first — but they stuck it out through years of trial and error, and now they’re forever written into the annals of history for their (eventual) successful flight at Kill Devil Hills.
When you’re on top of the world, it’s easy to go with the flow. Yet, every successful inventor and entrepreneur has a history of failure(s) behind them.
So how do you deal with the uncertainty and failure that often marks the path to success?
When the road gets rocky and you fall down, what happens? Do you give up and go home? Or do you get back up, dust yourself off, and try again?
When resistance comes knocking
It makes me wonder how many great ideas never see the light of day due to resistance. How many people were one failure away from success, and just walked away. Or how many looked at the road ahead, decided it was too hard, and never even took the first step.
But if you’re here reading this, chances are that you’re still on the path. That you haven’t walked away. And that you see bigger possibilities up ahead, if you can stay the course.
So what can you do when you encounter resistance? When you fall down, how can you pick yourself back up (over and over) and be one of the few who make it to the finish line?
Enter resilience. The ability to recover from whatever comes your way. To get hit. To fall down. And to get back up, every single time.
Resilience isn’t something that you’re born with. But it is something you can cultivate.
And with practice, it’s something that becomes so second-nature that after a while you can fail, fall, and recover without blinking an eye.
A brief history of standing back up
Like the Wright Brothers, I’ve had my share of what the outside world would consider failures. Times where the rug got unceremoniously yanked out from under me. Projects and launches where things went nothing like I expected.
But those experiences taught me an important lesson about resilience, and continue to show me how far I’ve come.
I’ll give you a couple of recent examples.
Example #1 – the rug disappears from under my feet
I was working part time for a company, on a long-term contract basis. I walked into a meeting on Monday morning, and when I walked out of that meeting, the contract was done. No notice, and just a few hours of work left to complete — and no other significant income on the horizon.
That afternoon, I cried.
Tuesday, I got pissed. How could this happen to me? The world was unfair. Full stop.
Wednesday, I went to a good friend’s yoga class in the morning and then took the dogs hiking when I got home.
By the time I woke up on Thursday morning, I was ready to make a plan.
Less than a week between hit and recovery. I considered that to be a significant improvement — had it happened to me even a few years before, I probably would have found myself in a funk for much, much longer.
Example #2 – the “failure” that validated everything
Back in December I decided it was time to put myself out there in a way I never had before.
The program that I launched (MindFULL to Mindful: A 14-Week Journey to a Balanced Modern Life) was the culmination of everything that I’ve been living and teaching. I spent the next three months pouring my heart and soul into the program and the launch.
The end result?
Not what I had hoped. Not even close.
So I faced reality. Sitting on my futon on a Saturday night, I let myself be upset about the outcome. I cried, hard enough that one of our dogs decided to crawl up all in my business.
Very quickly, the sadness turned into tears of laughter, and I laughed until I couldn’t breathe. My partner went out to get takeout for dinner, and came back with flowers to “celebrate” my failed launch.
And then I laughed some more (okay, a lot more) as we watched an episode of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot.
Less than a day between hit and recovery.
Yes, I still get occasional flashes of bitterness or frustration that things didn’t turn out as expected. But I’m okay with how things turned out.
Really, for real.
Invest in the process, not the outcome
The really important lesson that I learned from this “failure” of a launch? That the program material I’m teaching is spot on — it’s the foundational practices and ways of being that I’ve cultivated over the years. And it works.
Now I get to dive back into entrepreneur mode and figure out where things went sideways. How I’ll do things differently moving forward. And what parts get to stay. I’ll take the lessons that I learned from what didn’t work this time around, and be stronger next time around.
Five years ago, a failure like this would have sent me straight back into job search mode. I probably would have given up, hung up my entrepreneur hat for something stable. And missed out on the amazing journey that lies ahead.
I’m genuinely excited about continuing to strengthen the foundations of my personal entrepreneurial resilience — the practices that guide my daily life. And from that foundation, I’m ready to continue exploring the path ahead.
Do I have any idea what’s out there? Probably not. But isn’t that one of the best parts of the journey?
If you invest in the process, the steps that take you from “here” to “there”… who knows what greatness, what world changing projects and ideas you and I may uncover along the way.
Life lessons. Experience the event (success or failure) fully. Release emotion. Share with a partner (or pet). Step back, step up with a plan, move forward. You’ve articulated great experiential insight and you’ve renewed my respect for process. Thank you for a post that comes at a good time for this reader. We await surprises as well as success!
Love this, Sandy! Thank you for everything you teach me.