Failure & Passion: Key Ingredients for Success
If you ask any successful person to describe their journey, they will be able to pinpoint failures that were, in most cases, the launching pad to what they consider their successes.
Success, as I've mentioned before, is not just monetary. Success is so much more than that. It's the feeling of fulfillment that you get when you achieve what you set out to do. It's important to recognize this because it's easy to set financial goals and focus on the wrong target. Ask any millionaire - money is great...absolutely. But it doesn't provide the inner feeling of fulfillment that keeps you moving.
Successful people, ie: fulfilled and happy people, do two things right that we can all learn a lot from.
1. They approach passion in the right way.
2. They except and even embrace failures.
Let's talk about passion.
A lot of millennials read my blog, and as a millennial I can attest to hearing the phrase “find your passion!” many times throughout my young life. But you don't have to be a millennial to have been told or felt inspired to go seek your passions.
Our parents, our teachers, our mentors all encouraged us to “go find our passions!” Well, there’s only one problem with that. “Finding” something you’re passionate about isn’t effective. You can’t seek out something that you have a burning interest in. Instead, you have to create that passion. You have to make that passion.
When you try to find your passions, you end up dipping your toes in a ton of shallow water and rarely go deep enough to find something you truly love doing. As a side effect, you could end up feeling like a failure when these attempted passions don't work out. Life is short ya'll, and that's just a waste of damn time.
To create your passions, you first need to open yourself up to new experiences with a completely open mind. Go into situations and accept opportunities that come your way simply for the benefit of learning and observing and experiencing. It's seriously that simple. Say yes, figure out the rest later. Stop thinking so much about trying to FIND something you love or FIND your next career. You'll spin your wheels faster than a hampster in a cage.
Look at it this way:
Let’s say you’re in a weird career canyon and hate your job. You want to find something you’re passionate about. Going back to school might seem like quite the daunting task so maybe you try to see if you’re passionate about selling Cutco (or similar- this is JUST an example). You just thought, "I heard some people can make six figures selling cutco. I think I might be good at that and I might love it!" If you don't open yourself up to a new experience with the goal of simply learning, the likelihood that you'll end up passionate about it is low.
Because passion is hard. To become passionate about something requires non-stop learning, energy, time, education, dedication, persistence, and resilience. Passion comes from investing in a subject and seeking to understand that subject so much that the passion is created.
And you know how most successful people find what they are passionate about? They find it by making mistakes. By failing. Because they were open to new experiences and said YES to things that might not have been the best fit for them. What no one tells you is that you can try many things throughout your life and you might not end up passionate at them or even any good at them. But the experience of exploration, of potentially making mistakes, is what can create a launchpad to something you might actually love or have innate talents in.
We're trained to think we should settle on ONE career. That there might be just this ONE thing we are talented at. ONE gift. But that's ridiculous. You might stumble upon things that you are passionate about multiple times throughout your life. We're not meant to do the same things everyday, every month, or every year. There is no cookie cutter outcome that suits us all.
Anyone close to me knows how many times I've made mistakes and failed in my life. I don't pretend to be perfect or to have my shit together. But I strongly stand by my belief that the failures I've experienced throughout my professional career have only paved the way for the next passion I was about to create. Failures have always been my cornerstone for success.
Years ago, I was in an entry-level job and was miserably broke. I was extremely young and had zero sales experience. A sales job opened up within my office and I was encouraged to apply. I didn't feel like I had the confidence and I clearly didn't have the experience, but I applied anyway. I know my ignorance of sales weakened my chances, so I started to make cold calls and generate leads myself. I set up sales appointments and kept management in the loop of my successes. I just started doing it. I hadn't even been selected for a panel interview yet, and didn't even know if I would. I took action. I opened myself up completely to the experience, despite being told by several people that I was too young and should probably go for a more "realistic" position before trying to land such a "big girl" job. But you know what? I got the job and it changed my life.
After I left my corporate gig, I experienced what I would consider to be a failure that inspired Dynamic. I took a huge risk leaving my cushy career and started working as a contractor for a start-up, handling marketing and business development (notice a pattern of opening myself to new experiences?) I had toyed with the idea of starting my own agency for years, and I felt this new position would give me some hands-on experience. Trouble was, the company wasn't ready for the ideas and strategies I had in mind.
I was a fish out of water - with so many marketing ideas that didn't interest this company. Not to mention, my efforts in business development were fruitless. The bruise to my ego was brutal. At first, I felt like a complete failure. I doubted my skills and abilities, wondering if I was even any good at all. There was a low point that I feel I needed to go through to get where I am right now.
But the key to overcoming failures and riding that metaphorical elevator up when you’ve hit “rock bottom,” is resilience. Sure, I felt like a loser at first - but I made the decision quickly that I didn't suck, that I was good at what I do, and that I was still interested in Marketing and Business Development. And when you make that decision, you have no choice but to dive right in and go full throttle.
I might not have made any impact in that business, but sure am now. I picked myself up and got in front of other businesses that could use my expertise. It didn't take long before I had a respectable client base and recovered my financial losses. I dove into continuing education - spending hours taking new classes and attending webinars, keynotes, conferences. I nurtured my interest in the subject until I became so passionate about it that I knew I was in the right place (at least for now).
It’s insane how quickly perceived failures can turn into giant successes if you handle them properly.
I’m so unbelievably passionate about business development. I love working with small business owners and helping them develop marketing strategies to grow their bottom line. But it took so many learning experiences and paths to create this passion. And the truth is, I might become passionate about a handful of more things throughout my life.
For instance: A few years ago I became a yoga instructor during my corporate sales career without any intention to teach yoga full time. It was a hobby that I was exploring. I LOVE yoga, but I learned through the experience that I don't enjoy teaching as much as I enjoy my own personal yoga practice. So I taught yoga part time for donations to cover my training, and after a year I stopped. Being a yoga instructor introduced me to so many people in the San Diego Yoga community. I met my now friend Kirk, who owned a Yoga studio and was looking for a partner. We had a few meetings to discuss me possibly investing. I decided I didn't want to own a yoga studio but we stayed friends. He sparked my inspiration to leave corporate america, got me connected to the start-up that I mentioned earlier, and now he owns a photography studio and he's one of my preferred partners. CRAZY RIGHT.
It's OKAY to try things and decide they won't be your careers. I hope I'm getting this point across.
I want you to know that I’m all for the side hustle, and in fact I’d like to write another blog post about how to run a successful side hustle. But you don’t need to monetize everything you enjoy!
When you open yourself to new things and have a learners mindset, you allow yourself the opportunity to discover amazing things. Through experiences, you can find a tiny spark of passion and then nurture it. Investigate it. See how badly it makes you tick. You might just find that it changes your life, or you might find that it’s not what you expected and nothing about that is a failure.
Love you all - and if you liked this post, leave me a comment.