The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given


The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

When you decide to enter into the great, big and sometimes harrowing world of Small Business, you can rest assured of one thing: You will receive a lot of advice.

People in the know and often well-meaning people out of the know will all throw in their 2-cents worth in the hope of steering you away from misfortunes and helping you succeed. And although sometimes the advice might be less than helpful, every now and then you stumble across a gem that stays with you and actually does help you along your journey.

For me, my sparkling gem was this:

There’s no such thing as failure unless you give up.

See the thing is, in business and in life, things don’t always work out. Sometimes you’ll have wonderful successes that seem to come from nowhere with very little effort and sometimes despite your hardest efforts things will simply never fall into place.

It’s easy enough to see this as a failure, in fact, it’s probably logical to, but if you ever want to be truly successful the trick isn’t never to make a mistake, the trick is never to give up.

The great American writer William Faulkner puts it like this:

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

I’m sure you’ve heard of the ‘fight or flight’ instinct.

It’s the idea that when you’re faced with an attack or a stressful situation, your brain will subconsciously make a decision about whether to come out all guns blazing or to run as far away from the danger as possible.

Traditionally this instinct existed to protect our ancestors from wild animals and life-threatening situations, but unfortunately, our brains don’t perceive a great deal of difference between a lion attack and say a public presentation. Both situations make your heart race and your palms sweat, and in both cases, your brain will make the decision that it deems will best keep it and you out of harm’s way.

That’s why so many people seem content to not take risks in business or in their careers.

You have an instinctive need to protect yourself from harm’s way, whatever that harm may be. So, when you hear statistics that say 50% of Small Businesses fail in the first five years, your brain tells you that you should run in the other direction.

Say you do overcome this fear and actually start your business, should things start to take a downward turn six months in, it’s very likely that your first instinct will be to pull the cord, accept the failure and move back to safer territory.

But success isn’t about not making mistakes; success is about hanging on through the ups and the downs because you are convinced that no matter what, no matter how many tries it takes this is going to work.

Maybe that means changing your business model entirely, maybe that means changing it more than once. But if the dream was to run your own business so you could get out of the corporate world and spend more time with your family, then an unsuccessful business model doesn’t spell out failure, giving up and going back to your corporate job, that’s the failure.

Another wonderful piece of advice I’ve been given is this:

It’s better to fail trying than to fail to try.

I love this advice because it applies to so much more than just business. Sometimes your ambitions, hobbies, relationships, goals or dreams won’t work out, but if you never even give it a go then you’re doomed anyway.

As Wayne Gretzky said:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So why not take a shot and see where it goes? Either way, if you have decided that you’re going to fail anyway, you might as well fail trying?

Believe me, if you hang on for long enough, you’ll see a lot of people let go of their dreams and content themselves with something lesser. You’ll see a lot of people settle because they’re scared of failing, and sometimes when you’re hanging on to your ambitions for dear life, you’ll wonder if you should too.

But that’s when you pull out the gem. That’s when you remind yourself that there is no such thing as failure unless you give up.

I might not be successful at everything I do in life, but it won’t be for my lack of trying. I hope you feel the same way.

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  • Adam Gordon

    Tracy – Love it.
    There’s another old saying, attributed to various people – “If at first you don’t succeed, try,try, try again.”
    And then there is the motto of the Scottish Gordon clan – “Forward without Fear”.

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