Failure is not an option…or is it?

Portrait of an attractive woman at table grabbing her head

Failure is defined as a lack of success. If that’s true then I really haven’t been successful. None of us have been successful. Failure seems taboo to talk about in our world of {perceived} perfection and “overnight” success. Well, today I’m going to tell you about my relationship with failure.

My first job out of college was for a small business. If any of you own a business or have worked in a small business, you know that you don’t just have one job. Your “job” bleeds into all aspects of the business. It’s all hands on deck. My official job title was Executive Assistant. But my actual job was executive assistant, office manager, payroll manager, credit card runner, invoice sender, phone answerer, event planner, note taker…you get the idea.

Needless to say, failure and I had couple of encounters. My biggest failure {to date} was to the tune of $50,000. Yes, those 5 zeroes are supposed to be there. This failure still kind of haunts me today.Just thinking about it still makes my heart rate go up and my stomach feel sick.

Take my company’s biggest client,

plus my lack of attention to detail,

plus my desire to be big girl and not ask questions/verify,

plus running the client’s cc for 2x what it was supposed to be *cough* $50K *cough*,

equals DISASTER in the form of boss yelling at me and worse, the client firing us…what a great day week of work!

After getting yelled at by my boss in person, I received a call from him saying, “Well, my advisor told me not to fire you.” Cool, thanks. And I didn’t get fired. {I still owe that advisor a drink.} And the client ended up hiring us back because our work preceded my mistake. {THANK THE LORD!}

Pause so that my blood pressure can lower.

Okay, I’m back.

So what did I learn from this? Where to begin? I’ll give you a short bullet point list.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. – I wanted to handle this on my own because I wanted to prove that I could solve problems without bothering my boss. BUT my boss would have rather had me ask 50 questions before make a $50,000 mistake.
  • Customer service trumps getting paid immediately. – I thought I need to collect their payment as soon as possible even though the mistake was on us. Rookie mistake.
  • Life goes on after failure. – Don’t beat yourself up. Try to find the lesson {I’m sure it won’t be hard to find}. Look for the positives that came out of it.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to look at failure differently. Not as a lack of success, but as part of success. I have redefined failure. It’s now a necessary step on the path to success. See, as much as it hurt, that failure taught me so much about business, about myself, and about life. It made me a better employee. It taught me about how I treat myself when I make a mistake. It taught me about customer service which really helps now that I run a company of my own.

My favorite redefinition of failure comes from Sara Blakely the founder and CEO of Spanx. Here’s a short video of her explaining her definition of failure: Spanx CEO Sara Blakely offers advice to redefine failure

Failure is a part of life. Failure is a part of success. Failure is an option. So when we fail, let’s fail well.

Have you experienced failure? What did it teach you? Leave a comment!