Is Failure Really Possible?
Can we fail successfully?
I spent the past five plus years running a divorce management company (The Divorcierge). One of the areas that I found myself addressing with my clients was the decision of whether or not to move forward with divorce. Deciding to divorce is one of the hardest choices ones makes, particularly when there are children involved.
Although my attachment to The Divorcierge was not quite same as that of my marriage, I decided to move on to a new venture earlier this year. Interestingly, making the decision to close my business involved much of the same thinking process: was I giving up on something that was too hard or was it really the right time to try something new?
I spent the year prior to closing my company struggling with what to do. Helping someone navigate the divorce process and being by their side through the most difficult times feels noble and humbling. While I certainly didn’t experience the very pain my clients did, I was able to empathize and guide them to the possibility of a happier future. Why then did each day feel like such a battle?
The idea had been validated time and again by anyone I’d ever spoken to who had been divorced.
There was enormous market opportunity.
I was well trained – Several coaching certifications, an MBA, personal experience with divorce, work experience.
I was recognized as an expert in the area of divorce coaching by several well-regarded divorce experts.
I really agonized over what to do. The battle ground inside my head was in full swing:
Was I running away from the business because it was too hard? Too heartbreaking?
Was I a lousy at what I was doing and unable to help?
Did my logical and no-nonsense approach scare clients away?
Did I have too little experience?
Was my website to confusing?
Did my content not resonate?
Was it the SEO, Social Media or Emails? Was there too much, too little?
Was I not working hard enough?
How could I walk away from something that I had put so much into?
Was I going to be just another statistic of failed businesses?
At the end of the day, I realized I no longer had the heart for the divorce business. Not that I didn’t care about the suffering of others, I knew that helping others always felt good, but it wasn’t what drove me to get out of bed every day.
Having spent the better part of the past few months analyzing my business, I discovered that my interests lay elsewhere. In taking the time to really dig deep into what brought me to where I am today, I learned that The Divorcierge was a ‘successful failure.’
Without the experience of starting, running and subsequently closing a company, I would not be where I am today: starting a new company with excitement and curiosity.
Once I had the courage to say I no longer wanted to work in the divorce business, I found clarity and purpose. Not just purpose for the future, the purpose of the last few years.
I gained confidence to try again. I learned what I liked to do vs. what I ‘had’ to do. I met dozens of people I would never have had the opportunity to meet and I helped many individuals through the most trying time of their life. I never thought of divorce as a failure, nor do I believe that closing a business is a failure.
Every struggle, every milestone you achieve and every accomplishment you have contributes to your success. Whether it’s personal or professional, without these events, we would not have the tools and hindsight to know to do things differently.
With every event that didn’t turn out the way you’d planned or hoped, remember, there’s no such thing as failure, only successful failure.