written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Kym Petrie
What would we be as entrepreneurs without a few significant roadblocks to refine our focus and perspective? The secret lies in accepting that there will be a constant stream of uphill battles and then finding a way to make the most of the opportunities those challenges present us.
Much like the athletes we are watching on television during the Olympics and recently at the Tour de France, we ready ourselves for the daily pressure of leading a company and are in constant training mode; refining our skills, stepping up the technology we use to make us better stronger… smarter. But the true opportunities lie in the unexpected… I am a sound believer in the thrill of defeat. Yes I said it- not the agony of defeat- the thrill of it.
Years ago, when I gave notice to a company, the gentlemen who sat as the President of the organization told me that I should have been content with such a good paying position, given that I was a young women with a good title and high community profile. He mused openly that I would be better served to stay put, not rock the boat and that he believed I was at the peak of my career. I was 30. I had worked so hard for the organization and respected the team so much that his advice caught me off guard and left me feeling defeated. It wasn’t long before I realized that people’s opinions of who I was and what my future held did not define me; rather their lack of vision motivated (and even propelled) me into positions and opportunities they would never have been open to or understood.
Like other entrepreneurs, I had to become my own internal cheerleader, surround myself by people who were smarter than I was, and be willing to take the leap into some new and rocky territory. I was open to learning, to reinventing, to challenging and innovating in circles where people expected formulaic strategies. I have never appreciated the phrase “its not meant to be’, instead I think in terms of ‘full steam ahead’, “hard right turn” and ‘foreseeable risk’. I learned long ago that in order to make big dreams happen, I had to be willing to make big mistakes.
I am a story girl, I like fables and anecdotes and powerful quotes. One of my favorite stories is of twin boys around 9 or 10, one an optimist and one a pessimist, whose parents are exhausted from years of trying to bring balance to their views of life. Twin One is never happy, in spite of his success at sports and school; Twin Two is happy and lively and never takes life seriously enough. The parents decide to use the holiday season to teach them each a life-changing lesson. On Christmas morning the parents get the boys up and bring them to collect their gifts. Each boy is brought to a different room, whose door remains closed until Mom and Dad give the word. Then the boys run in, filled with excitement and close the doors behind them to enjoy their prizes. The parents had considered the gifts long and hard to make sure that each boy is able to find the balance they so need to move forward into their lives.
In room 1- where the pessimistic Twin One has entered, the parents have placed a real pony with a big blue bow. In room 2- where the optimist Twin Two’s gifts should be placed, the parents have filled the room with manure.
The parents open the door to the first room and carefully and peek in to see Twin One’s reaction. He is sitting on the floor shaking his head and muttering, “there must be some mistake”. The parents are shocked, and move across the hall to open the door to the room Twin Two is in, hoping he has finally understood that not everything in life ends on a happy note… They open the door wide and stand back in shock, only to see Twin Two digging madly through the manure and yelling “I know there is a pony in here somewhere”…..
Heard “NO” lately? Lose out on a contract? Decision you wrestled with is now back to bite you? Awesome….there is a gift in there somewhere. A relationship, a lesson learned for the next RFP, a refined skill, a foundation for a more innovative response. But jump on it- jump over it…. There’s a pony in there somewhere.