I live in Maine, and if you haven’t heard, we recently got more snow in 10 days than we did all last winter. That’s alright by me because this year I’m confident I’m prepared for it.
Living out in the country, I knew losing power was a possibility back when we moved here, but having never lost power for more than a few minutes to an hour or two, I didn’t plan for losing it long term. One year ago this week we had an ice storm and lost power for five days. I learned a long, cold, dangerous lesson. As my neighbors were firing up their generators, I sat huddled in front of a small propane stove wondering how many hours of fuel were left in the tank, hoping the power company would have things back to normal before the pipes froze in my house. (Note to self: Hope is not an effective strategy.)
I lost confidence after the third day and with stores sold out of generators I called equipment rental centers looking for one. Eleven calls later, I found the last one in the county. It worked poorly and had just enough power to run my furnace only. I wasn’t confident it would keep working. Fortunately, it did the job for the next two days until power was restored. I vowed I’d never let this happen again and a week later bought a generator with enough juice to light up Times Square.
I suffered because I didn’t prepare for the fact that power failure was a reality of the environment I was in. Many of our professional failures are a result of the same thing -- failing to prepare for the realities we are going to face. In entrepreneurship, the biggest thing we often find ourselves unprepared for is failure. Entrepreneurship should come with a warning label. "Danger: Failure Ahead."
We will all fail, often. We fail in important meetings, fail to make sales, fail to retain customers and maybe even fail to keep our jobs.
The failures themselves aren’t the problem. The problem is that with failure comes emotions: regret, frustration, anger, desperation, mistrust and shame, to name a few. These emotions cause us to suffer “personal power outages” that damage our most important business asset, our confidence. It’s the one thing that influences everything, so you’d better protect it.
Are you protecting yourself and your team’s confidence for when failure inevitably occurs? If not, starting making this priority number one.
I’ve had people tell me it's negative thinking to be focusing on this concept of failure. I couldn’t disagree more. Here is why: If a student believes “positively enough” that he or she will get straight "A"s yet they never read the textbooks or study for the exams, what do you think will happen? You’ve got to put the work in and prepare.
Confidence, like a generator, is a power source, but you must create it yourself internally. In this regard, confidence isn't really a trait, it’s a muscle, and if you train and protect your confidence, it will grow.