The Value of Failure

Big Red Car here waiting for The Boss who is arriving back today from skiing. The wild running late with the housesitter good life is ………………………….. over.

So, I was talking with a couple of CEO cars and we got on the subject of the value of failure in long term success. One of them recited the famous Rudyard Kipling poem IF and was singing its praises as a frame of reference for entrepreneurs and, of all things, politicians. She, hot little 1984 Mercedes convertible with great headlights, said this is the money passage:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;

I told her that I got it. Entrepreneurs dream. But they have to convert those dreams into reality. Along the way they may meet with either Triumph or Disaster. And then what happens, Big Red Car?

Dear reader, what happens is that you grow and what doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly stronger and stronger and stronger. In the ashes of those disasters are seeded your future triumphs. That’s all there is.

How does this apply to real life, Big Red Car?

When I watched Mitt Romney catalog some of what might, arguably, be Donald Trump business failures — Trump Air, Trump Vodka, Trump Condoms — I was struck by the reality those failures likely made Donald Trump into a better, savvier, wiser businessman because he had met with both Triumph and Disaster and treated those two imposters the same.

Nobody catches the brass ring every time and even when you skillfully lay out Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture, and the other building blocks of a well organized enterprise — shit happens and your perfect idea goes into the waste basket. [Extra points for not saying “shitter.”]

Where does this apply, Big Red Car?

It applies in the real world of startups and entrepreneurial endeavors. That is why your first startup is such a wrenching experience. You don’t even know what you don’t know.

Serial entrepreneurs, who have been through it, know what they know and have an inkling of what they don’t know but they absolutely know that there is stuff they just don’t know.

 It also applies in the world of politics. With President Obama we got an inexperienced, low mileage, first term Senator who had no executive experience. He had run nothing. Good speeches? Oh, yeah!

 Turned out he was the Artful Dodger and a big liar. An unfortunate outcome for almost all of us.

 Today, the Republicans are dancing with two similarly accessorized inexperienced, low mileage, Senators who can speak for hours on the subject of legislation that never made it into law and calculate to three decimal points the exact number of pins that can dance on the head of an angel [haha, read that carefully, y’all].

 Or, there are two other guys — Kasich and Trump — who have actually done stuff.

 In the case of Kasich, he’s been a Congressman harkening back to the Gingrich era, a governor who has jerked his bankrupt state back to solvency, and an investment banker (Lehman Brothers, hisssssssssss — knock it off). Seems like a good sort to the Big Red Car.

 In the case of Trump, he has built a substantial company, made a few bucks, married three beautiful wives, built a brand and failed at a few businesses — Trump Casinos, Trump Vodka, Trump Air. This is not an all inclusive list, I am sure. [I’ll check with Mitt Romney who is Trump’s designated historian these days.]

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

Here it is — we are all best served by people who have confronted failure/disaster and lived to tell the story. We do not need another President who is going OJT (on the job training) on us and who has never run an enterprise.

So, Mitt, for me I like that a guy has found success in the ashes of failure. It makes him strong, resolute, determined and in his hands the Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture of any living organism is more likely to prevail.

So, here’s to a little failure, y’all. Here’s to those who get up one more time than they’re knocked down. Here’s to the guys and gals with the scars, the bruises, the broken fingernails.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car and I’ve got a few blemishes myself — Big Red Car Notebooks? Why didn’t that deal work?

2 thoughts on “The Value of Failure

  1. BRC, The premise of Kipling and learning from failure is the action of embracing your failure then learning which requires changing personal approach or behavior. Evidence that Mr. Trump has not done this in his personal life is all three of his wives look alike, evidence of this is the Turmp___ businesses is his show of those products still being viable companies at the FLA presser.
    In business to day I see start-ups pivoting like a game of spin the bottle trying to find the product/market fit.
    Failure without brutally honest retrospective and behavioral change is denial. Walking down the street stepping on the same land mines.

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