Failure Doesn’t Mean You’re Off the Hook

I am failure. I am not your comfort blankie. I am not here to lull you back into your cocoon of self-fulfilling prophecies. I am not an excuse for your laziness. I am failure. Stark, simple. I do not split hairs. I am a goal unmet. I am potential unfulfilled. I am the wind at your back pushing you towards the chasm of irrelevance. Or I am the wind at your face, blowing over the horizon, through the valley of greatness.
Choose a direction.

When I was a kid, I hated sweeping the floor when my parents asked me to. After dinner, my parents, 2 sisters and I would all buzz around the kitchen cleaning up. But when asked to sweep the floor I would grind to a whiney pathetic halt. After finally sweeping a couple times, I noticed that my father would point out all the spots I missed and tell me to do better. He was right; I did a shit job. I learned something, though; something dangerous.

From that point on, when my parents would ask me to sweep, I’d whine, “But I don’t know how. I’m not good at it. I never do it right.”

I had befriended failure in the worst way. I knew that if I was convincing enough, they would let me off the hook and I could go do a different chore that I more preferred. I allowed the bit of authentic self-doubt be indulged by pure laziness.

Laziness loves failure. Laziness collects each failure like a stone from a river that must be crossed. It places each stone in its pocket, weighing it down until it can’t move, when it should be building a stone bridge.

So, you don’t like going to tradeshows? You don’t like dealing with your AdWords numbers? You don’t like reading contracts? You don’t like the grind of sticking to a schedule, sticking to a plan, doing the work that doesn’t jive with your mood, sweeping the floor. You go out there with a lukewarm attitude and do a half-assed job and when you get the slightest critical feedback on what you know was a shitty job, you say, “See? I told you I’m no good at this. Someone else should do it next time. I’ll do this other stuff that I’m better at.” Translation: “I don’t like doing that, and I’d much prefer to do this other thing.”

Too bad, you have to do things that you don’t want to do, sometimes. If you don’t carry around a shit attitude like a bag of rocks, you might end up liking it, or at least taking pride in it. Failure doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

When you fail, you don’t get to say, “Oh well, I guess somebody else should sweep the floor.” That’s the hard, cold truth of being an entrepreneur and a responsible adult.

We all have our certain things, which, for whatever reason, we just don’t like doing. As entrepreneurs, it’s all too easy to find something else to do that seems important. Along the way, you leave a trail of failures behind you. Enjoying a task, even being good at a task, does not make it more important than the other things that need to get done. Being less-than-perfect at a task doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it anyway. Failure doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

The luxury of doing mostly the work that you want to do must be earned. Little by little you can delegate, but at each step of the way, higher toward success, you will be faced with new challenges that make you uncomfortable, that you just don’t like. Will you let the wind of failure blow you back, or will you keep pressing on?

Let me know in the comments what failures you have resolved to overcome this year.