Every week growing up, Sara Blakely says her father asked her, “What did you fail at this week?”
Her father used the question to push Sara toward trying new ventures. The process of experimenting and being curious mattered. Failure simply became an accepted and approved byproduct of such efforts.
When Sara told her father the exploits of her most recent failure for the week – he high-fived her.
From Inc: In an interview with Fortune, Sara said, “I didn’t realize at the time how much this advice would define not only my future, but my definition of failure. I have realized as an entrepreneur that so many people don’t pursue their idea because they were scared or afraid of what could happen. My dad taught me that failing simply just leads you to the next great thing.”
Sara had plans to become a lawyer. After failing the LSATs twice, those plans changed.
“It was one of many tests that showed me how some of the biggest failures in our lives just nudge us into another path.”
After several more failures, Sara founded Spanx. In 2012, she became the youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world.
Now, it can be easy to point to a billionaire and say, “Look at that successful path! Everyone should just do that. Follow that advice!”
Try. Fail. Try… If only.
I benefit from seeing people I know and work with mold their dreams. “If they can do it, so can I,” is a powerful motivator when you can relate to the person on the pursuit.
The person in my life that has most embraced being comfortable with the potential for failure is my friend, Ryan Murphy or “Murph.”
Murph dreamed of playing professional baseball. He quickly realized the “chubby nice kid from high school throwing high 70’s (as he described himself)”, was never going to get there. He put in an impressive amount of work to transform physically and mentally to an athletic, healthy and confident force. Through this hard work, he eventually pitched in the 90’s, which is incredible growth for an athlete after high school.
Despite this personal success, Murph failed. The major leagues never called.
For many of us, the story may have ended here.
Not for Murph. Like Sara, his failure wasn’t paralyzing, it simply nudged him down another path. He realized he developed tremendous knowledge about baseball and personal development through his pursuit. This knowledge could be shared and utilized to build a business and help thousands of athletes like himself.
Indeed, he has officially taken the plunge into business ownership with the launch of Murphy Baseball Performance. He is putting his passion on full display with some of the most entertaining, sometimes bizarre, and insightful Facebook videos being used to promote his brand.
Murph’s real-time success story has come with its share of criticism.
I ask him if he is ever uncomfortable with so much of his life now on display? With people judging him? With opening himself up to criticism from those inside and outside of the baseball industry?
He quotes his mentor, Grant Cardone. “I’ve gotten comfortable being perpetually uncomfortable.”
What does this have to do with Wealth Management?
Financial planning is more than 1’s, 2’s and 3’s. Of course the financials matter, but the most important part of the plan is that it leads to a fulfilled life. That means very different things to people. Some of us love the thrill, excitement and challenge of scaling the corporate ladder. Others are enriched by the ability to teach, mold minds and shape futures.
Regardless of your path, there is the very real chance you start out in a direction that doesn’t play out as you hoped. Does your plan allow for the chance of failure? Will you be able to pivot if you realize you’re on the wrong path? If you are on the right path, can you ride it out when times get tough?
A plan that creates flexibility provides options. The option to pursue, while allowing for the chance of failure, can be one of the most enriching benefits.
With this in mind, I challenge you to ask yourself, “What have I failed at lately?” And if you find yourself concerned with someone being critical of your pursuit, as Murph surely has, remember this famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Get in touch. We’d love to help you build a plan that gets you in the arena and allows for the continued pursuit of new opportunities.
P.S. NPR’s “How I Built This” has a fantastic podcast episode with Sara Blakely. Check it out.