Their business had failed. All of the money, effort, dreams, and emotions invested in the business had come to nothing. Despite their best efforts to create the conditions for a successful venture, this couple’s dry cleaning franchise had failed miserably. Everything gone. Only painful memories and a crushing sense of defeat remained. They spent the next weeks and months wondering what had gone wrong? How could they have avoided this failure? What should they have done differently?
Now many years later, they were faced with another big business decision and had come to me for counsel. But in our discussions it became obvious to me that the franchise failure was weighing heavily on their minds, still a massive wound on their emotions. That experience was holding them back, causing hesitation, making them afraid to move — in any direction — and overly cautious. It’s certainly understandable, right?
They needed to forgive themselves and view that painful experience with new eyes and a fresh perspective.
This husband and wife team were incredibly smart, very friendly, honest and the kind of folks you would love to work with or even just be around. So my heart was very moved by their story. But I began to see that if they were to ever succeed at any venture again they needed to give themselves permission to fail. They needed to forgive themselves and view that painful experience with new eyes and a fresh perspective. They needed to deal with it in a healthy way because it had NOT yet been dealt with.
My advice to them was this:
1. Change Your Perspective: They needed to change they way they viewed the whole painful franchise experience; to view it as a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. They are on their way to great things and this was a learning experience that will inform their future endeavors.
2. Journal About This Experience: They needed to sit down, get quiet and journal about that experience. Write down their observations, lessons learned, things they would avoid in the future, and things they would do differently now. Someone once said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.” Clarity comes when you write things down.
3. Find The Good: They needed to adopt an attitude of gratitude about the whole experience. Wait. What? Yes, that’s what I said. Be grateful for the wisdom they now possessed. You see, wisdom is cheap at any price, as long as you get it. This experience was good for them. They are better for it.
4. Dream Big: Finally, I said now that you’ve given yourself permission to fail and that this experience is part of your path to greater success and achieving your life’s purpose, dream big! You’re much smarter and wiser now. Allow yourself the creative freedom to dream. All great things started with a dream. And if you’re going to dream, then why limit yourself.
I am happy to report they left our meeting feeling very encouraged. They even wrote back to me later saying how much brighter everything now looked and how much easier their upcoming business decision now seemed.
What do you think? What advice would you have offered them? Would love to hear from you.