choosing to be – or – staring down failure with an ace in my back pocket

Tenacity by Gwyn Michael

Editor’s note: Gwyn is working towards a Kickstarter project. It’s quite ambitious and a bit slow going. She discusses the possibility of failure below.

I am writing this on Mother’s Day. I could have, should have, written it sooner but to be honest I have been so completely preoccupied with “the project” that I almost forgot. I am not a mother and my own mother is long gone, but I do have an awesome mother in-law and she is coming for dinner this evening so I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

If you haven’t noticed I am a Seth Godin fan and again I will refer to him. Seth writes a lot about failure and why it’s good because it means we are trying things, we are “poking the box.” I agree, but it is easier to get behind when you are not in the final stages of what could be a big fail.

Seth has this to say about failure:

The math is magical: you can pile up lots of failures and still keep rolling, but you only need one juicy success to build a career.

The killer is the category called ‘neither’. If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticizing, you’ll never have a shot at success. Avoiding the thing that’s easy to survive keeps you from encountering the very thing you’re after.

And yet we market and work and connect and create as if just one failure might be the end of us.

Aha! I have been doing exactly that, looking at this project as if this one failure could be the end of me. Truth is I already have two new project ideas, most likely better ones.

I have never been much of a sports fan but I am gaining a new respect for athletes. Even with a big paycheck coming it has to be hard to get back out there for the last inning, quarter, whatever when you are losing badly. But they do it, again and again.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over. ~ Yogi Berra

Never have I understood that better. We work hard as entrepreneurs, often alone. On Friday after a bit of a meltdown I got back in the game and made some changes, one of them being to back away from the work. I was running myself ragged trying and getting nowhere. After a good break I came back and gave the project a makeover. I gave myself time to look at what may not be working and change it. I came up with some new strategies to reach people. I reached out and got some great advice from friends. Too little too late? We shall see, but I am in til the end whatever the outcome and it kind of sucks, but I can’t say I regret it and I can’t say I won’t try again. I choose to be.

This week I am not giving much to link to or respond to but I’d like you to answer this:

When the chips are down, what gets you back in the game? 

What gives you the tenacity to find the crack in the concrete and grow?

What makes you choose to be?

8 thoughts on “choosing to be – or – staring down failure with an ace in my back pocket

  1. I have been so inspired by your project. Whether this one ends as you would like or not, what you have learned is indispensable. And the fact that you have two other projects already in the planning stages says a lot. Your passion or environmental art is very clear and enticing. Good luck!

  2. Just keep moving when you feel like moving, and hold still when you need to hold still……step away when you need to do that too. Whatever you deeply feel is the right thing to do, is the right thing to do at that time.
    One thing that keeps me going is the awareness that there is often a difference between my plan and the Master Plan! and the Master Plan ALWAYS wins.

  3. You don’t know how many people you have inspired by trying this very big project in public. I, for one, have poked the box more this week than ever before– because of you and your kickstarter project. I may even be MORE inspired if you don’t reach your funding goal because you’ll have given me an example of how to try in front of people with grace, courage, and humor. Thank you. Who knows? Perhaps your so-called failure will plant the seeds of your greatest ‘success’. See you at #wds. Xxoo

  4. A few years ago I reconnected with a friend of mine from high school. What had he been up to? Well, he was in the Grenadines working for the Peace Corps. Right in the middle of a job interview the hiring party stopped, looked at him and asked why he was there if he didn’t want to be. Matt had no idea he didn’t want to be there until that. very. second. A few minutes later he stood, thanked the gentleman, and found a place he did want to be. Apparently it was the Peace Corps. And that is why I keep on keepin’ on.

    Because this guy I once knew woke up one afternoon and decided to have a life. He began a lot of great projects to help the people of “his” island. And he came up with some other projects that sucked. But he OWNED his life. He CHOSE to be where he was instead of following some high school to career arc as dictated by “them.”

    Gwyn, nobody can take this away from you. You own it. It is yours. Leap into the arms of forever, my dear. Because that’s how long bravery like yours gets immortalized.

  5. WOW WOW WOW Those last 3 comments blow me away. Seriously hair on end child and a heart thumping rush.

    I believe that whatever the outcome things will grow from this. Victoria the Master plan so often eludes but I know it serves me best.

    Alyson thank you. That I can be an inspiration for others to think bigger is reward enough and perhaps is one of the seeds. WDS!!!

    Janice I love that story! I have never followed the dictated path well which is perhaps why I don’t see myself as brave. I am starting to get it that this is one of my gifts. Fearless Be-ing. I have doubts and insecurities like everyone but I am always ready to jump again.

    Thanks to all for your support here and on the project and on whatever is next!

  6. People are saying a lot of good things here.

    If your kickstarter goal is not reached, that would suck. Of course it would be really disappointing! I don’t want to brush that away. But it’s so true that you already achieved a lot and everything you’ve learned will be part of your future projects. You’ve inspired people, you’ve tried new ideas, learned about fundraising, seen that already people believe in you enough to quickly offer over $4,000 of support, and who knows what else. I’m excited to hear you have new ideas in the works, too!

    Somebody said to me (it was Don) that if you try something and it doesn’t work, if it fails, that’s good. You get to have that experience and see that it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it might not even be that bad. Once that fear of potential devastation is removed…imagine what greater things are possible! So, that is why I like failing. 😉

    I think in answer to your post’s questions, I would say: I try to return to basics/simplicity – to do something simple that just works. I need to remember the feeling of achievement (even something tiny) and simplicity, rather than struggle/trickiness/nothing-works-ness.

  7. Thanks Emma!

    I am at a good place with all this right now. I have recieved a ton of support and thoughtful advice and comments. I am starting to see some different possibilities for myself as well. I am still in the game till next Monday at 8pm. At 8:01 I will decide what my next move is :-)

    As for Don he speaks from a place of knowing. I had a similar conversation with him and I love his attitude.

    Yes, a small success, perhaps making a really good dinner, can make a big difference when a disappointment happens. I am actually planning to have a celebratory dinner on Monday with candles and flowers and such. We will celebrate my success or my moving on to the next thing!

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