Toolbox #9: Happy Little Accidents

Breaking Free: Part 1

Hey Tentmakers.

I’ve got a bit of a confession to make.

My journey to where I am today is paved with the remnants of several failed business ventures.

There was the multi-level marketing venture, a stab at real estate, and even a vending business experiment that put me nearly $10,000 in the hole.

Each one, an idea infused with passion and hope (“this is it!”), yet each one, a venture that didn’t pan out (“I’m not cut out for this”).

It’s so easy to look back at those attempts and see nothing but failure, to let those experiences define me.

Maybe you can relate.

But here’s what I’m learning: each experience, as disheartening as it was at the moment, laid the foundation for the insights and wisdom I hold today.

This week, we’re kicking off our "Breaking Free" series, and I’m inviting you to turn the page on the narrative of failure.

What if every face-palm moment was actually a lightbulb moment in disguise?

You see, our past failures aren’t chains; they’re our foundation. They’re the raw, unfiltered lessons that textbooks and lectures can’t provide.

Even some of the most iconic brands and businesses, the ones we hold in awe, were forged in the furnace of setbacks and failures.

  • IKEA: Ingvar Kamprad faced boycotts and battled dyslexia. Yet, it was his innovative approach to flat-pack furniture that turned IKEA into a household name.

  • Vera Wang: A failed figure skater and overlooked editor, Wang transformed her setbacks into a globally renowned fashion empire.

  • Lululemon: Chip Wilson’s earlier ventures into skateboards and snowboards didn’t take off, but they paved the path for Lululemon’s success.

  • Spanx: Before founding Spanx, Sarah Blakely failed the LSAT twice and sold fax machines door-to-door. Blakely’s idea was rejected multiple times, but her resilience turned Spanx into a global brand.

  • Dyson: James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner created 5,126 prototypes that failed before he made one that worked. His vacuum is now one of the most popular in the world, and Dyson became a billionaire from its sales.

Action Step: Take a moment to jot down your ‘failures.’ Beside each, write the lesson it taught you, the skill it helped you hone, or the insight it revealed.

You might just discover that your foundation is stronger because of, not in spite of, those experiences.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition, and in the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories of ‘failure’.

Or as the great theologian Bob Ross would say, “happy little accidents.” 🎨

We’re in this together.


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