Embrace the Struggle
XYZ Company was founded only 18 months ago and today they are doing $10 million in sales.
John, the founder of 123 Company, now only works four hours per week and makes a whopping $150,000.00 annual salary.
The Blue Zebra Widget Company now sells one of their amazing widgets every 10 seconds.
Open any business magazine or listen to any media outlet and you’re likely to hear stories like those. These stories are motivating and inspiring and give many of us the entrepreneurial itch. Often these stories give us the courage we need to take chances.
Although there is certainly good that comes from stories like these, in my opinion there are plenty of negatives. The biggest negative is that by hearing these types of stories we often create false expectations for ourselves as entrepreneurs and business owners.
… If we just get our product out to the marketplace. If we just had more traffic to our website. If we just had more money to put into our product. If we just had the right connections. If we….
The reality is your story can’t be just like those that you read and hear about. You are not them. You are you.
You have different skills, different connections, different ideas, and most importantly, you are on a different journey.
The times I get the most depressed and discouraged are when I look around at all those other entrepreneurs who have it better than I do. After all, I’m just as smart and work just as hard, so why is it that they are so successful and yet I feel like all I do is struggle?
It’s this comparison that can be so dangerous for those on their entrepreneurial journey. They set us up with a false since of hope, and often make the journey look easy.
But don’t look for the media to change what type of entrepreneurs and stories they feature. After all, who wants to hear about the company that is struggling to pay their bills? Who wants to hear about how the last product they shipped had a major flaw and now their customers are irate?
It’s Not Sexy
Highlighting the struggle isn’t sexy, particularly when the outcome is unknown. The media wants to report the known success. They don’t mind talking about how the entrepreneur struggled, but only if they know the outcome was a huge success.
Despite popular belief, people don’t like the unknown. We want to know if the struggle will be worth it. Unfortunately, life simply doesn’t work this way. When we enter the struggle (or The Dip as Seth Godin calls it) we simply don’t know if we’ll make it out with the results we originally hoped for. That is life!
The SECRET Recipe to Success…
There is no secret recipe! Period! If there were a recipe that worked every time, then all you would have to do is follow the recipe and you, and your business, would be successful. I read a lot, and I’ve yet to stumble across a single book that contained THE answer that I needed.
Without a doubt my life and business is better because I read all those books. But you see, the books only provide me with guidance for the next few steps along my journey. Often the steps that I know I should take are the exact steps I don’t want to take. It’s these steps that pull me further from my comfort zone and expose my weaknesses and flaws to the world.
However, it’s this process that makes me, and hopefully my business, better.
Learning From Mistakes
One of the greatest teachers of recent time, Jim Rohn, used to talk about the importance of taking the “failure” out to lunch and asking him, “How’d you manage to screw up your life? You were born in America, you’ve had 20 years of working in one of the greatest countries and economies in the world, and yet you’re still broke. What did you do? What didn’t you do?”
What mistake could you have avoided if you had someone come to you and say, “Look, I used to be in your shoes and here’s what I did, and here’s how it created this huge failure for me”?
What if the media exposed the true struggles of the average entrepreneur? What if they talked about both the mistakes and successes the entrepreneur had along their journey?
I certainly believe this would give us as entrepreneurs a more realistic perspective about the struggles that will arise along the journey. It would remind us that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to not know all the answers. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to be wrong.
We Need You
We need you to share the truth. The world is full of “experts,” but what we need is honesty. How many blogs have you read that said, “The 7 Steps to _____________ Success”? I’ll admit, I have written a few of those myself. And although there is nothing wrong with these, what if there were more posts like “The 7 Mistakes That Almost Ruined My Last Marketing Campaign”?
It’s these posts that are the hardest to write. Not from a technical or time perspective, but because it’s posts like these that make us vulnerable. They expose our weaknesses and highlight the fact that we don’t know it all.
I truly believe this is exactly what the world needs. We need you to be authentic. Tell us what’s working – that will certainly help. But also tell us what isn’t, or didn’t work. Maybe if we heed your advice we’ll be able to avoid the same mistakes.
Do You Really Want The Truth?
It would be easy to write and publish this post as advice for you. However, this advice is for me. It’s a challenge to myself to be more transparent. To not only share the successes, but also share the challenges and failures that I experience.
My commitment to you is that for the next few months we, at Ugly Mug Marketing, are going to be much more transparent about what is working and what isn’t. We sincerely want you to make 2013 your best year ever, and if by sharing our mistakes it helps you avoid a few, then we will have succeeded.
Keep pushing forward!
Embrace the struggle…
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