The Guts to Fail: What it Takes to Succeed

I threw out an entire loaf of soap yesterday. In that loaf of soap was thirty-four ounces of coconut oil, palm oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. There were also a few ounces of fragrance, several grams of clays, three hours worth of prep and execution, forty-eight hours worth of waiting, thirty minutes worth of sanitizing and clean-up, and sixty dollars worth of lost sales.

This is not the first time I’ve dumped an entire loaf of soap. I’ve also dumped countless pounds of scrub. I’ve “donated” dozens of sorry candles (mostly to my Dad who doesn’t care what they look like), and my shower looks like the Island of Misfit Bath and Body products. I can’t even begin to tell you the countless hours of time or dozens of non-refundable fragrances (someone please tell me why I ever bought a “Baby Diaper” fragrance oil?) I’ve had to discard. Boxes of forgotten jars, wrong-sized labels, and miscalculated packaging patiently wait in my closet for a purpose to existence.

I’ve spent hundreds…okay, truthfully, probably the low thousands, of dollars on mistakes, mishaps, and never-agains. Have I failed? Yup. Will I fail again? With certainty. Am I going to give up? Not in my vocabulary.

I understand why the diction associated with being an entrepreneur is “building” a business, because it’s passionate work that requires time, planning, and maintenance. As cliche as it sounds, success doesn’t happen overnight, and success is a constant effort. You can’t just ride on success; you have to….to use the house metaphor…fix the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, repair the roof. You can’t be afraid to dump an entire loaf of soap. You can’t pretend that not-good-enough is good-enough.

You have to be decisive. You have to just make a decision, right or wrong, to choose a path. Robert Frost reminds us he “took the road less traveled,” not for us to believe we must make the right decision, but instead, for the right decision at that time. We can use statistics, analytics, and critics to guide our success, but the ultimate road to success is failure and understanding we cannot turn back to move forward, but we must look back to understand forward. 

You have to be ready to dump an entire loaf of soap, and pull out your calculator to fix what was broken.

-And miles to go before I sleep--Robert Frost

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