The Second Time Around
In my past life, I always scoffed at the audacity of someone who fails at a venture and is able to "immediately" stand up and start all over again. Scoffed might be a harsh word, maybe, but more precisely, I should say I was envious of their ability to act as though nothing were wrong; to pick up and carry on. Only after experiencing great loss in my own life did I have a clear understanding of why they stood back up so fast or why they just dusted off and kept going. When failure happens, these can be the greatest teaching moments in our lives. I can honestly say, I have at one point in my life lost almost everything of great value to me (I still have my children, my greatest treasure). But, I know the pain of a life crumbling before your eyes. I know the deep anger and disgust associated with watching years of hard work turn to memories. I know the torment of truly "knowing" who your friends are. I also know forgiveness, somewhat (still human, not Saint).
There are many pitfalls - many valleys to slow your journey. If you get caught up in the fear, pinned down by the fleeting nature of courage, faith and self-confidence, you lessen your chances of completing the journey. My best advice, brush off those knees and move on to the next business. Those who have moved forward to the next venture, are often heard to have said "why did I wait so long."
I also finally know why some people can stand up so fast. When we were children, when we fell down, our parents would quickly pull you up and dust you off and push you right back into play. Seconds later the "boo boo" was forgotten and we returned to the rough and tumble life of a toddler. This is a lesson we somehow lost as adults. When life gives you great pain, great anguish, great anxiety- face it, immediately. Don't waste that precious time mourning what was lost, or angry at the injustice of the actions or actors. There is still life in you- get up quickly and move on. The sooner you move past it, the sooner you heal. The change of focus helps you move down that very same path towards re-creation. The second time around, you "get it". For me the love of material things was much diminished, a greater respect for money itself emerged in its place, and a new vision of "money and happiness" frames my world view.
Now don't get it twisted, Gertrude Stein was absolutely right when she said, "I have been rich and I have been poor. Rich is better." But there is an attitude, a mental conditioning that can only be acquired from set-backs. Somehow, when some people acquire first generation wealth, the money doesn't last. This is usually true whether you won the lottery or obtained a college education that catapulted you into the high six figures. There is no frame of reference for how to handle the various stresses and unique challenges of smothering a poverty mentality. Only after you blow it - do you get it. People often ask what makes a successful entrepreneur, and certainly there is no test to ferret out this individual or those respective traits. However, one very intriguing indicator of success is given regarding entrepreneurs. The success rate amongst entrepreneurs who started a second business after a first business failure, is both impressive and inspiring.
And for my minority business owners - don't be so quick to fall for the "American Dream" line of thinking. You can do everything absolutely right, and it can still be taken from you. I am hearing this story from black professionals, more and more these days. We can call it back lash, call it professional jealousy, call it control: there is still so much more to thriving and excelling as a minority business owner.
I heard this quote on television in passing, so I don’t know who to credit it to, but I like it a lot. “What doesn’t kill you, doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, it just doesn’t kill you.”
Tonya Crew, JD