The Expatriated Consumer

Imagining life without debt. Working to make it reality.

Failing to succeed

Posted by Max Finkle on May 15, 2008

Failure. (Shudder…) It’s the mighty obstacle one needs to overcome to succeed. For instance, my desire to start this blog. I’m afraid I’ll fail at it. I’m afraid of the idea of failure. I’ve put off writing posts, and made excuses for why I can’t succeed, simply because of the mere possibility that this whole thing could fail. Then I wasted my efforts, right?

Whenever I start thinking of failure, it brings to mind one of my dad’s favorite stories about a friend who owns a local store. Mel, we’ll call him, opened a successful store in a leased space many moons ago. Opportunity knocked, a chunk of land became available in just the right spot, so he pounced. After buying the land, he applied to a local bank for a loan to start construction. So certain was he that he’d get approved, he hired contractors to get started and they broke ground. After a couple of days they had the rough framing work completed, and at 5pm on the promised day the nice loan officer called to inform Mel that the bank would not be able to finance him.

Mel promptly hung up the phone, went into the bathroom and vomited. He had tens of thousands of dollars in construction under way, with no way to pay for it. I’m not sure what I would have done from there, but he decided to ply other financial institutions for a loan the next day. He successfully secured financing that very day. Construction continued and his store went on to become one of the most successful businesses in town and has made him quite wealthy in the meantime. A bump in the road was not going to be enough to make him quit his dream of being a successful entrepreneur.

Mel got his start selling a trailer load of Persian rugs off the back of a truck, started a couple of other businesses and got involved in real estate. Most of those ventures never paid off, and he shuttered them. But he never gave up. He never let his fear of failure stop him from succeeding.

I remember being in school a few years ago and having panic attacks about failure. “What if this doesn’t work? What if I don’t get the grades to stay in the program? What if I finish the program and can’t pass the licensing exam? How am I going to get a decent job? How am I going to get ahead?” At times I was virtually paralyzed by fear, unable to make the next move to continue my studies.

Finally, my mom stopped me and said, “So what if you fail? You’ll try something else and keep trying until you find something you succeed at. Most people don’t succeed the first time they try something. If you fail, at least you tried.”

As it turned out, I succeeded. When the workload at school got more difficult, I doubled my efforts to complete the work, and studied that much harder to understand the material. I still battled the fear of failure, and it was a furious battle, but I perceviered.

Try to keep in mind that success is right around the corner. We don’t know which one, but we gotta keep peeking around each one that we encounter until we find it! That sentiment applies to everything we face in life, from finishing school, to starting a business, to the more mundane such as learning to cook or type, or start a blog, and even to achieving financial independence.

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