4. Don’t blame the black holes. The three most powerful words for an entrepreneur are “I take responsibility!” When failure comes, don’t start playing the “blame game”. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Take the initiative. Take action.
When I was living in Austria at the age of 23, my roommate always got up early and made coffee for everyone else. I’m sure it took about a year of watching this consistently for it to finally sink in that he didn’t have to do it. He just served other people without being asked. It was like a light bulb went on in my head—I could serve others without being asked and without seeking approval.
As I’ve progressed through life, my perspective has also changed. My wife is not only my spouse, but she’s also my business partner. We work together or for our clients throughout much of our week. And because I ask her to do things for me at work, I should expect to do things for her at home. More accurately, we have just learned that we need to keep our eyes open and do what needs to be done—in work, it might be answering emails. In our home, it might be doing dishes, even if it’s not “our turn”.
There are too many people in life who wait for others to do something that needs doing. Around your house at a dinner party, there are normally a lot of dishes to be done. These are often left to the women as “their job”. If you are sitting around and no one is making a move to wash dishes, practice your new slogan, “I take responsibility”. Get up and do some dishes and encourage others to join you. It might be contagious. It will certainly make others happy with you and only positive results can come from that.
The same habit of taking responsibility will flow over into your entrepreneurial life. As an entrepreneur, you can rarely wait around for someone else to do something. You often have to step in and get it done. Any entrepreneurial venture has a thousand tasks to get done and often 20 or 30 or more every day.
When you fail at a venture, don’t start blaming all the problems that appeared around you or the people that you had to work with. Yes, you have a right to say that “I would have been successful in this venture if it hadn’t been for x, y and z.” However, that always leaves you in a negative, self-destructing mindset. Learn to say, “When x, y and z happened, I learned a, b and c. Those were valuable lessons. I’ll try to learn from that and do better next time.”
5. Criticize cautiously. I'll never forget a supervisor at a junior high school, observing a young teacher. As the teacher made a mistake, the supervisor waited for her after class and angrily scolded her in front of all the students. I was sad for the teacher, but embarrassed for the supervisor who did not have the character or wisdom to scold the teacher privately.
As a general rule, do your best to hold your criticism completely. When someone makes a mistake, they are probably feeling awful. Extend grace to them. The secret is to pick up your friend, or pick up your workmate or your employee, not get angry, not get upset, but look at the problem and say, “How can we learn from this? How can I learn from this? How can we become better from this problem?”
Your action frees up your friend or colleague from discouragement. This builds confidence and trust and loyalty in your relationships. It empowers you and it empowers them. So the next time your friend fails at something, learn to say, “You’ll do better next time. Look at all the great lessons we can learn from this!"
The business world … and the Bible… are full of people who failed before going on to success. Compile a short presentation or poster highlighting the lives of two people—one of your favorite stories of a modern day business failure-turned-success and another from the Bible (not necessarily a business story). You may use Glogster, Powerpoint, Prezi, Keynote, or your favorite presentation tool. Provide details such as:
• Their name and business or occupation,
• When they lived,
• Details of their failure or struggles,
• The story of their breakthrough,
• The lesson(s) you can learn from their story.
Cite your work where appropriate. You may choose any person you like. Examples might be authors, inventors, restaurant owners, business people, entrepreneurs, missionaries, etc. The presentation should take no more than 10 minutes to view or read. When you are finished, submit your presentation to your teacher.