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What My Father Taught Me About Failure

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I was born into a business-oriented family. My mother studied finance in school, her father studied accounting; my father studied international business and was the first in his family to go to college. I was taught, from a young age, that failure is something good, something constructive – failure means you’re making progress!

This method of thinking, however, directly contrasted what I learned in school.
From the day we enter the doors of primary school, we are conditioned to believe that failure means that we did not attain, we did not try, we did not achieve. I failed a grading period of Algebra in middle school despite the tutoring, regardless of the hours of studying and extra work I did to try and understand, despite showing up to class and asking questions. At 13, I failed, and that’s all that mattered to me at the time. My father took me aside after my report card came out (he was angry, of course), advising me to learn from this failure and not to associate myself or my intelligence with this setback. “Failure doesn’t define who you are,” he said. “Failure is a lesson, as hard and unkind as the lesson may be.”

My best friend moved here from Iraq when she was two. Her mother spoke no English, and her father spoke some – enough to get by until he got acclimated. Years ago, they opened a deli café directly inside some of the office buildings in the heart of the business city. She remembers her parents frantically running around, pouring all of themselves into this deli – her mother would work long hours while her father cooked the food and juggled finances – only to be met, in the end, with failure’s cold, wise hand.
While the deli was no more, her parents went on their way to keep making due with life and the uncontrollable, sometimes shattering trials we face.

Some family friends of mine used to own multiple restaurant chains around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The restaurant names were varied, but they were all barbeque-based and extremely delicious. Two of their restaurants – a chain – were and continue to be successful 30-something years after their opening, but the newer stores didn’t have quite that flash of luck when they opened. Within months, two restaurants shut down, and the family, despite having faced failure before, still found themselves mourning their dream.

My grandparents used to own a small kiosk at the DFW International Airport. They sold trinkets and tchotchkes related to sports – namely gear for the Chicago Cubs and Bears. My grandfather, a seasoned businessman, poured years of savings and heartache into this kiosk, only to go out of business just over a year later. My grandpa recalls feeling hurt, lost, simply baffled, in all honesty, that his business did not make it. He isn’t the first person to fail, and he surely won’t be the last. My father started up multiple side gigs to try and earn more income for my family: a small business called Brilliant Minds, where he was dedicated to helping seasoned and talented firms find qualified doctors. He owned a soccer club called Nationals FC, where he was also the head coach. Him and my mother are both in the energy business – she’s in sales support and he is in charge of every Texas vendor (small electricity businesses) affiliated with a big energy company.

“Moving from Honduras,” my father used to say, “Meant a world of opportunities for my family and I.” What he didn’t think of, however, was the hardships he would face when he moved here – the setbacks and failures that plagued him, he said, did not hold him down.
“Un fracaso no es control” – A failure is not control – he used to say to me: Failure is not control. Failure is not control.

[Seven goals you need to set for your business to succeed]

It’s easy to forget, in the heat of things. Running a business and balancing your life in the mix is often overwhelming. There are mistakes made, things are neglected, and you find yourself isolated, faced with failure, not knowing what will stick when you throw it.
Think about this: when have you made a mistake or failed at something? What did it teach you, and how did it make you feel? I can guess the answers are to carefully go about things, double check yourself and don’t fear of asking for help. I can guess you felt small, insignificant, like no matter what you put out into the world was to be hurled back at you at the speed of light, causing you to topple over into the dirt, sad, sulking, feeling out of control.

Some of the kindest people I have come across in my life faced harsh failure at some point in their lives. While failure doesn’t feel good, it surely isn’t a descriptive factor of who you are as a human being – it should help you to grow. When you fail, you are placed in this state of self-observance. Most go through and reimagine themselves in the very position they failed in so that they can get a better understanding of why they failed in the first place. Failing humbles you, keeps you on your toes, and even motivates you to do better moving forward. It instills in you a sense of patience and understanding for others, and will eventually lead you in being successful.

I personify failure as if it has feelings, a face, and a family to go home to every day. When it comes down to it, failure is inevitable – it’s that thing that we fear each day, as we associate failure with not being qualified or good enough to do what we do. According to Forbes, 90 percent of startups fail. While there may be many reasons behind this high failure rate, there is something to take away from this: focus.

Focus on all aspects of your business, and not a few simple things. Businesses are holistic and there are things that will go wrong. It is important to build a sturdy business plan that can be mobilized and converged, that you have a product or service that is readily available and in high demand, and that you have a strong force behind you to help ease the pain of business circulation and lead to a successful, profitable future. When it comes to failing – something you need to be aware of is the fact that it is inevitable, failure will come knockin’ at your door. It is important that you learn to quickly learn, recover and move on from whatever setbacks you may face so that you aren’t lumped in with the 90 percent group.
Running a business is hectic. It is easy to lose track of work, documents, time, meetings, and even people. Find things to help like tools and

Running a business is hectic. It is easy to lose track of work, documents, time, meetings, and even people. Find things to help like tools and apps, and keep working until you’ve reached your dreams. And always remember what a wise Dad said once: “failure is not control”.



Author: Christian Jimenez

Christian is a Public Relations student and freelance writer from Dallas, Texas. He has a passion for traveling, coffee, and all things writing (creative, technical, you name it). His works range from newsworthy topics to self-help blog posts for small businesses. He is currently the content creator for ezClocker.

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