Society constantly reminds us to strive for success and pushes us toward winning. However, it also misleads us into believing that “failure is not an option.â€ While many of us are familiar with this motto, either coming across it on social media or even posting it online ourselves, the truth is that–yes–failure is, in fact, not an option; actually, it’s inevitable. Although no one likes or ever wants to fail, failure is part of the journey to success. As such, it tends to be one of life’s best teachers.
In his new book, MillionaireÂ Moves:Â Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship, William F. Pickard, Ph.D. explores the principle of failure as something that should be embraced, not avoided. The business mogul also shares a personal testimony of how failure helped mold him into a better person and stronger leader.
As part of the Black Enterprise #MillionaireMovesMondayÂ series, here’s another excerpt from Dr. Pickard’s book.
Principle Five: Failure
I’ll never forget that day. I had to drive to a hotel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to stand in front of a group of irate creditors and try to explain what went wrong. I was so nervous, my palms were sweating and my heart was racing. I had never failed before and here I was at this very public event, hanging on by my nails.
As I approached the podium and looked into those angry eyes, I recognized many of the same individuals I had stood before 10 years earlier to make my initial pitch. Most were there– the people who supplied the cardboard boxes, the sales reps, the vendors who provided tools. Only one original creditor was missing–his position was now being handled by his son. All in all, there were about 100 men, pointing, hollering, and cursing.
I cleared my throat and spoke:
“You’re looking at the guy who made the decision to take on all of this business,â€ I said. “And it was more than we could chew.â€ The shouting escalated. But before I could utter another word, a guy stood up and asked everyone to calm down. (Unbeknownst to the creditors, this person was a plant who had been hired by my team to come to my defense.) The person reminded the group that I had run a successful business for 10 years and had paid them all back 40 cents on the dollar in a timely manner.
“Everyone in this room got their check and no one sent the check back,â€ he said. “So we have made money with him. He has grown the business, tripled it in size, and he admitted he over-expanded.â€
He continued: “Once you finish screaming and yelling, you need to think about something. If you force him into bankruptcy, we get pennies. He’s paid the money back before. That’s critical. He’ll pay it back again.â€
After another couple of weeks and a second meeting, I was granted additional time to work out Regal Plastic’s problems. Within six months, I was able to orchestrate an orderly wind-down of the company so that I could eventually exit it completely. In the meantime, I began to recall my late Uncle Paul’s guidance and reminded myself that failing is an intrinsic aspect of success and as much a part of being in business as securing a loan or writing a check.
I now define failure as one of the many lanes along the journey to victory. Ironically, I’m embracing a philosophy that a number of young people seem to understand very early in life.
Stay tuned to see another excerpt from his book next Monday!