Recently, I was speaking with a young woman who grew up in a small, western European country. She told me that she loved being in the United States and was hoping that she could spend the rest of her life here. When I asked her why, her answer was illuminating.
She said, “In my country if you fail at a business, you have a target on your back for the rest of your life. When I was a child, a man in my village started a restaurant. He tried hard but it failed. Now, nearly 20 years later, people still whisper behind his back that he is a failure. In your country, many successful people have failed at several things before they break through and make it as entrepreneurs. If you fail in Baltimore-Washington, you can go to Chicago. If you fail again there, you can move to Seattle. Or, you can stay put and keep trying. America gives business people 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances. I think that this is key for a society to move forward.”
I was floored by the prescience of this young woman. She realizes that almost all successful entrepreneurs have a willingness to fail. In essence, they fail their way to success until they get it right.
A few weeks after speaking with the young lady, I talked to a mature man who is a serial entrepreneur. When I asked him how he thrived where so many others did not, he laughed and said, “Don, I am different from most people. I am not afraid to fail. All my life, I have failed and I continue to do so. I got it right a few times but that is all I have needed. To me, failure is part of success IF YOU LEARN FROM IT.”
Entrepreneurial guru and best selling author Randy Gage (author of Risky Is The New Safe) put it beautifully--“The opposite of success is not failure but mediocrity.”
So, while America has its share of problems, we are still free to fail. And that, along with an innate entrepreneurial spirit among many of us plus passionate immigrants, bodes well for our future.
If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org