Failure is a very heavy word. In fact, this is something that entrepreneurs struggle with feeling, overcoming and beating on a daily basis. It's a fear that we hold deep within us as we power through each day. These failures can come in many forms, and don't have to be notable failures to throw us off course or ruin our week. We may be a business that's small in numbers, but we are building an empire and anything that messes with that can feel like a gut-wrenching setback.
But it doesn't have to be this way. While these moments can indeed weigh us down, it's really how you look at these experiences that will set you apart from the rest.
What is failure anyways?
It really comes down to your own definition. Most of the time, it's nothing that anyone would ever be able to notice from the outside looking in. It's knowing that you didn't live up to expectations that you had for yourself - which makes it that much more devastating. But, don't be so hard on yourself. We promise, it's not something you want to waste time on in the long run.
Use failure to learn from
“After four tumultuous years of building my startup with the wrong partners, I was determined to find a way to take my business to the next level … and what better way than to apply to ABC's Shark Tank? In September of 2013, I found myself walking down that scary shark infested hallway into a stare off with 5 of the harshest millionaire investors in the world. I'd never been more nervous in my entire life. When I proclaimed I was going to change the population with my reverse engineered online dating business, serial entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, rolled his eyes, called me delusional and immediately snapped, “I'm out." After getting shot down by all five Sharks, I looked them in the eye and said, 'Trust that you'll all see me again.' Although those final bold words of mine ended up on the cutting room floor (adding insult to injury), in the 48 hours after the broadcast, Cheekd.com received a record breaking 100K unique visitors and our inbox filled up with thousands of emails insisting that the “Sharks" were “out of their minds" for not investing. A little under 50 of those emails were from interested investors. Since the Shark Tank aired in February of 2014, I found the missing links from years before. We've raised 5 times the amount I'd sought on the show and I've gotten a CTO on board who's helped facilitate and finance the new face and technology behind the new Cheekd. The newly launched dating app allows users to solve missed connections with a new technology that was not available when the patented Cheekd idea was launched in 2010. It was only a matter of time and I'm thankful I didn't take the Sharks advice to quit and move on." Lori Cheek, Founder of Cheekd.com shared about her crazy experience on Shark Tank.
Use it to gain resilience
The more you are able to overcome, the stronger and more resilient you become. At this point, you are well aware that your business is going to take work, every single day, in order to get to the end of the finish line. You need to learn to overcome challenges in order to get to that point and that means dealing with some letdowns along the way. These experiences will teach you how to carry yourself and build character. Failing will help make you who you are.
Don't dwell on something you feel you missed out on
Even something like losing a client can put us into a tumultuous state. “I used to think that it was the worst thing in the world to lose a client. We prided ourselves on doing whatever it took to keep everyone, and any time we'd lose a client I would beat myself up. I have since learned that not all clients are good clients or the right clients for us -- it's important to make sure that you find the right people to work with. And I've learned that businesses grow and change - so do we. Since I started being willing to lose clients (and not doing work for free trying to keep people), I've been able to charge more, our revenue and profit has soared, and we're getting more business than ever." - Reva Minkoff, owner of DigitalGroundUp Inc. and Digital4Startups Inc.
Hello, we've all been there. Every single business empire wasn't built in a day nor achieved perfection overnight. It takes some time and some struggle before we get to fulfill our goals. But the struggle is part of the journey, it all depends on how you use what you've learned along the way.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.