When starting a new project or venture, it’s common for people to define what success looks like. That sets the ultimate goal, the measurement by which we will know we achieved that ideal state we were looking for when we started. However, setting a single highly ambitious outcome can be very binary and simplistic, as you either achieve it or you don’t. And when what is at stake is a significant life change, such as starting your own business, this idea of a picture perfect success state might actually be the very thing that blocks you from even starting.
Remember that as human beings we are programmed to survive, and therefore to think about worst case scenario. And when starting your own business, the level of uncertainty is so high, there are so many unknowns, the perceived risk of getting off track is so overwhelming it can make the fear of not succeeding paralysing.
When I was making my decision to whether or not start my own business, I was moved by a certain ambition and aspiration. But it wasn’t the vision of success that allowed me to make the leap and take the first step. Instead, it was the idea of being comfortable with potential failure. And for me, absolute failure would have taken the form of spending the next 12 months without any clients and therefore with a huge amount of free time in my hands.
Once I had defined what failure looked like, I assessed how comfortable would I be if that were true. I had ensured I had enough savings to see me through that period and it turns out I was at a stage of my life I needed a break. A break to reflect, to read, to regain my health and fitness. A break from the corporate hamster wheel of senselessly chasing the next promotion, role or responsibility without any real idea of what is the ultimate goal or purpose.
Suddenly, a 12 month break didn’t sound that bad at all. In fact, it sounded like exactly what I needed. Knowing I’d be I’d be very comfortable with things not working out put me in a mindset of full appreciation for all the good things that came.
Ultimately, my decision to take the leap came down to what failure truly looked like for me. And true failure for me was about not being able to set an example for my children to pursue their dreams. If I didn’t make the leap for fear of failure, how could I possibly ever tell them they should follow their passion, create their own happiness and find their success?
It turns out that true failure for me was not about not succeeding in business. Failure for me was about not even starting!