Serial social entrepreneur and creative consultant, Joi M. Sears shares her top ten most epic personal and professional failures and the lessons she learned from them.
I would’ve loved to kick this series off with an inspiring story or some sort of crowning achievement that I could post all over my Facebook timeline. But instead, I feel inspired to talk about failure. More specifically, some of my most epic personal and professional fails that I’ve experienced since I’ve decided to go into business for myself.
I hope that by sharing these things I might save a few of you some time, energy, heartaches and headaches. Especially those of you who, like me, are in the process of running your own business, launching a creative endeavor or crafting your own unique personal brand.
#1 I didn’t trust my genius.
I don’t say this to serve my ego or portray some inflated version of myself. I believe that we are all geniuses. No other person has, or ever will have, the unique blend of talents, strengths, and perspective that you have. There is something you can do that no one else can do. You have a role to play in this world that no one else can fill. The true magic is in finding your own zone of genius and running with it. What is your magic? What is the thing that sets you apart from everyone else?
#2 I wasn’t authentic.
In many aspects of my life I didn’t practice what I preached. I would preach about the importance of being healthy but eating pizza and junk food for dinner. I would coach fellow entrepreneurs about the importance of building a personal brand all the while hiding behind other people and not building my own. I wasn’t letting the truest, most honest and authentic version of myself shine through.
#3 I didn’t have a map.
You can’t do much of anything without a plan but you most certainly cannot run a business without one. I had a vision of where I wanted to end up ultimately, but not a clear step by step plan of how I was going to get there. I had to sit down and get really serious about where I was going. What’s your NEXT map? What do you want to accomplish this year? Do you have a plan for your life?
#4 I did things that weren’t making me wildly happy.
I’m happy to say that I’ve built a life where I essentially get paid to be creative, but I still found myself doing things that weren’t making me wildly happy. I know, it sounds a bit privileged when I say out loud. However, I’ve come to believe that if you are truly, madly, deeply in love with yourself you will only have time to do things that make you wildly happy. Laboring away, designing websites for unappreciative clients who didn’t respect me or my creativity, was not making me wildly happy. So I had to make a change.
#5 I was afraid of success.
For so long I believed that more work = more success. I was afraid to take on more responsibilities, clients or projects because I thought they would infringe upon the freedom and space that I’ve created in my life. I didn’t realize it but I was actually afraid of success.
“It doesn’t matter how much you say you want success, if you believe somewhere deep inside that success equals some kind of pain (loss of freedom, loss of time with your family, loss of love, rejection, embarrassment, vulnerability or shame) you will NOT let yourself do what it takes to succeed.” – Marie Forleo.
I had to learn to reprogram my thinking. Success will only add to the freedom and space in my life, it won’t infringe upon it. What limiting beliefs are you holding on to?
#6 I mastered the art of non-essentialism.
I was doing anything and everything but what I actually needed to be doing. Instead of spreading myself too thin over multiple projects, I’m now focusing on the three things that will move the needle the most. I am determined to simplify my business and my life by sticking to the essentials.
#7 I went wider when I should have gone deeper.
Instead of doing a bunch of different things for a bunch of different people and trying to be everything for everybody, I should have nurtured deeper relationships with the people already in my circle. If you think of this in a business sense, instead of trying to attract a whole new set of customers, how do you offer a new set of products/services to the customers you currently have?
#8 I wasn’t consistent.
I’ve launched so many brands, websites, projects and platforms over the last few years, I’m amazed that I’m even able to keep up. When launching a brand, whether it be personal or professional, offline or online, it is extremely important to remain consistent.
This is how you build trust with the people you value the most. If you want to start your own blog, try writing a post on the same day each week. If you have a physical business, make sure you are open at the same times every day. The most successful brands are the ones that stay consistent.
#9 I didn’t start small.
Against the advice of everyone, when it came to launching my business I refused to start small. Even though I knew it was the easiest way to success, I continued to waste my time being spread thin over a million different projects and goals. Starting small and scaling your venture in time is the one consistent bit of business advice that I’ve received over the years.
#10 I didn’t follow my fear.
“Follow your bliss. Follow your passion.” We hear these kinds of phrases all of the time, but rarely do we hear that we should follow our fear. However, there are some aspects of our lives, particularly in our creative or entrepreneurial work where fear can be useful and help drive us.
Oftentimes, “the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more we can be sure we have to do it. The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and the growth of our soul.” (The Art of War) So in this case, Follow your fear. It’s a GPS for where you really need to go.
Call to Action
What are some of your most epic personal or professional fails? Anything to add to the list?
Also, if you find yourself needing a little extra help this month, I’m here for you. Book a Help Desk session with me and let’s discuss your ideas and the challenges that you are facing in your journey.
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