If at first you don’t succeed, you’re in good company.
In the summer of 2017, I, as a leader, had to communicate to my team one of the toughest things a leaders must do. Having stepped into the organization nearly 9 months prior in attempt to turnaround the business making it a viable social enterprise, the time had come to make some of the tough decisions.
I had been extremely transparent with this team throughout the journey. While we had a great concept, great players on the team, and will to win, we all knew the path we were on was not sustainable. Pulling them together toward the end, I shared with the team the change in direction we’d decided to make and played the following video for them, Famous Failures.
In this video, the team heard stories of people like, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Lionel Messi, Steve Jobs, Eminem, Thomas Edison, The Beatles, Dr. Seuss, and Abraham Lincoln. In all these stories, we hear of the failures they had to overcome in order to get to where they are today. The video ends with:
“If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”
As one might suspect, there was disappointment by all; however, understanding as well. Over the next few months, we worked to find placement for nearly every team member and idled our operations in September 2017.
In the mist of cleaning up the building, several of the members of the team came across the following photo:
Since you may not be able to read each block, I’ll provide them for you.
“Abraham Lincoln’s first business as owner of a dry goods store was a flop. He was later appointed postmaster in his township and had the worst efficiency record in the county.”
“Franklin D. Roosevelt began his career in public service after flunking out of Columbia Law School. He then decided to run for governor of New York.”
“Dwight D. Eisenhower was rejected three times for command positions before being appointed Supreme Allied Commander in 1942.”
“Harry Truman opened a hat and shirt shop at age 35 that went bankrupt after just two years. Truman worked 15 years to pay off the debt.”
Imagine the smiles on the faces of the team as they presented this picture to me that they just coincidentally found in the building a few weeks following my sharing the Famous Failure video. Now, I don’t believe in coincidence, but we’ll hold that for another discussion.
For now over 1 1/2 years, that picture has been in my office and the first thing I see walking in. While I’m not privileged to share yet what’s about to unfold, the vision is much larger than before. We have far superior technology, better branding, better go to market strategies, a superior operational plan, far superior quality, partners one would dream of having and the list likely goes on. While we’re not at the point of the stories referenced above, the stage is set and we’re excited about the future. In a couple years, if not sooner, we’ll let you know how things play out in our story.
So, what will be your Famous Failure (s) in your story? It’s often in the valley that we grow the most and the inspiration comes for “the rest of the story”.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9