One of the biggest business challenges anyone could face is dealing with business failure. I have seen many businesses develop, grow, fail and disappear very quickly. I have also seen many businesses thrive.
Whenever I travel and I seem to have done plenty of that lately, I tend to use it as a time to reflect and a lot goes through my mind. Whenever I get the chance, I put my thoughts down and this is one of those moments.
There’s this saying that ‘it’s not what happens to you in life that matters but how you react to it’ Very similar to my recent facebook page post of Martin Luther King’s famous quote that ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
We have all been through challenges in varying degrees and the impact of these challenges definitely varies from person to person . But one thing I have come to recognize is that, it’s not the challenge of itself that matters as such, but how we respond to it.
One famous motivational speaker (whose name escapes me now) illustrates the point perfectly with this illustration. He tells the story of a man who was getting ready to go to work one morning and while at the breakfast table, his daughter had come close to give him a hug. In doing so she accidentally spilt coffee on his shirt. As the story goes, Dad really loses his cool and has a real go at his daughter for being so careless and making him late for his appointments and meetings. Needless to say his daughter is in tears as he drops her off at school. When he arrives at work, he’s in such an agitated state that his behaviour towards his staff and colleagues was so appalling. that he ended up snapping at everyone around him and endured a really horrible day at work.
Clearly the reason for his bad day was not his daughter spilling coffee on his shirt, but his reaction to it. Imagine what his day would have been like had he chosen not to react the way he did to his daughter’s accident.
It’s not only the reaction to negative things that are important. It’s also the response to positive development. Do you see this huge promotion or financial windfall as motivation or catalyst to keep improving or do you just relax and say – ‘phew thank goodness I’m done with that’? This can have a negative consequence because the tendency is to take your eye off the ball and lose focus.
An election victory or defeat can be seen as an opportunity for change or progress or a lost chance to make a difference. The loser may look and say ‘the people are not ready for my message….. I’ll go away and rebrand myself, improve my delivery …..whatever … as we are seeing in the unfolding drama of Nigerian politics. President Obama won an unlikely victory and his entire campaign strategy was based on advocating change that Americans could be proud of
The reaction to situations can also be an opportunity to ‘rewrite your story’. As Toks Aruoture puts it ‘the past ceases to have power over you when you grab a hold of it and rework it into a valuable lesson that others can learn from.’
I consider my life to be a good example of rising from ashes or completely rewriting my story. In 1994, I co-founded a business that for many years was a premier brand in the exotic foods market in the UK turning over a comfortable 7 figure sum year on year and employing about 30 people. I say this not to boast but to illustrate a point. The point being that you learn from every experience.
We were relatively comfortable and the sky was the limit. For a variety of reasons, the business collapsed. Understand this, business failure was not on the agenda – we were meant to be on the cusp of a major expansion program that could potentially have trebled our earnings. so when failure came, it was very difficult to deal with.
Going from a place of comfortable finances to zero financially was a major challenge – everyone’s knocking on your door from creditors to bailiffs. It was not a pleasant experience. But I learnt a lot..I don’t know where I found the strength but I was determined not to let the experience define me as a person.
I also quickly realised that if I could teach other people what I have learnt from this experience it would have been worth going through it. I resolved that I would teach other people by helping them with advice, encouragement, resources and tips that would help their businesses thrive.
It has been an incredible journey, but I am grateful to God for upholding and strengthening me through the ride.
As a business owner believe me, you will encounter challenges.
Do you run away or hide at the slightest hint of trouble? Or do brace yourself up to do everything you can to overcome them?
I consider dealing with and overcoming challenges to be part of character building. What has been the biggest challenge you have had to deal with? How did you deal with it? I would like to hear from you. Please leave me your comments below.