The spiral growth systems blog

My Failures Are Worth More Than a Business Degree

I was born with an uncanny ability to put my foot in my mouth. That, coupled with a tendency toward impulsive decision-making, an aversion to authority, and a total disdain for the superficiality of most societal norms, has led to a lifetime of moments involving bewildered, judgmental, and disapproving looks from the casual observer.

Over the years, I’ve been fired from jobs, said some silly things to the wrong authority figures resulting in near-disaster, and made many decisions that I’m very grateful were not caught on video.

Even considering all that, nothing compares to the ways I’ve screwed up since I became an entrepreneur. Nothing compares to the money it’s cost me, the sleepless nights I’ve endured, and the snap decisions that took more time in the long run simply because I didn’t stop to think about them the first time. Most importantly, nothing compares to the immense gratitude I have for these mistakes.

As I’ve founded four companies, the growth I have experienced through my own process of trial and error adds up to far more than any negative consequences from my mistakes ever could. In exchange for each impulsive decision and strategic oversight, I’ve discovered insight that informs my path going forward. For every poor hire, miscalculation, and poorly invested dollar, I’ve cultivated more power, strength, and inner peace than I could have dreamt possible before I made the leap into entrepreneurship.

And for as many benefits as I have personally reaped from my failures, my business has received just as much in rewards of growth, profits, and a transparent company culture that leads to an enormous amount of fun had amongst productivity.

 As entrepreneurs, we’re seeking expansiveness. We want to experience the rush of watching our ideas realized, the validation of our creations being received by the outside world, and the aliveness that comes from spreading our passions across the planet.

Yet we get so caught up in the perfection of that process that many of us never get there.

You can’t blame us, though. Anyone with a vision as strong and a calling as deep as many entrepreneurs today has no choice but to hold steadfast to that deeper knowing that caused them to start down this path in the first place.

If we’re lucky, the only thing that outweighs the voice that tells us we have to get it all right is the drive to get it out there and, even more importantly, the recognition that sometimes “right” is actually what looks wrong.

 As I’ve learned that holding steadfast to my own growth is the most important part of the journey, I’ve also realized that the rocky ride was where the perfection really was — and where the biggest opportunities actually lie. In other words, each time I’ve surrendered to getting bucked off the bull, I’ve stood back up with more love for life and more clarity of purpose than I previously possessed.

It’s not only through the full-on, breakdown-for-days failures that I have experienced expansion. In every little up and down, every day spent creating and re-creating, every step forward and all of the fears that came with it—in each of these adventures in the day-to-day nature of running a business—I’ve gained far more knowledge than I could have hoped to garner through any top-notch MBA program.

We expect that an education from a good business school automatically ensures successful entrepreneurship. But even on that path, it takes a solid amount of failure to eventually create success; because it is only through the failure that inevitably occurs that you can call in the joy, the peace, the full expression, and, ultimately, the success.

And though it’s not for the nimble-hearted, it is a process available to anyone willing to commit to it.

Here are a few tips for choosing your own business as a school of growth:

1) Follow your gut.

Your gut feelings are always leading you down the best path for you. Even when they don’t look logical—and often they don’t—your spidey senses will lead you to exactly where you need to be.

2) Incorporate growth strategies into the way you lead.

To find fulfillment, your employees’ work must also be a platform for their own growth. Lead with the growth principles that will help your business thrive by infusing them into your company’s culture. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to do this yourself, bring in an expert to assist you.Alternatively, find a transformational course or methodology you believe in, make it a requirement for all employees to go through it, and use it consistently in the workplace.

3) Own your experience as a co-creator of everything

“It’s all a lesson” isn’t just some cheesy saying that we use to talk ourselves out of feeling crummy when bad things happen.Everything that happens has a message or gift to deliver if you’re willing to look for it. When we recognize we are the co-creators of our lives, we’re able to gain unexpected benefits from every experience and circumstance that presents itself.

4) Let feelings lead.

Many leaders possess a misbelief that feelings will become a distraction that will negatively affect their bottom line. However, as humans, we have feelings, and there’s no escaping them. When you allow your feelings to be a healthy part of your business and company culture, it produces the

5) Invest as much in the internal game of business as the external elements.

Human beings are the ones running their businesses. And humans have internal landscapes that will always be a part of any situation they’re involved in.To think your internal landscape doesn’t affect your business creates a huge disconnect, so you must give priority to your own internal growth. Internal growth is a practice, and there’s always somewhere deeper to go.In this journey, it can be important to have the guidance of someone who has taken his or her own growth journey deeper that you’ve gone, to support you in breaking past the next level of whatever you may be facing. When your business is founded on a greater calling or a vision that’s bigger than you, the next-level version of you is as important to your company’s growth as it is to your own growth.

What would shift if you stopped fearing failure and started embracing it?

Can you imagine the more expansive version of yourself and your business that might be possible if you could show up fully, even in your imperfections?

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