By Charlie Badenhop
I recently heard from a friend, about a Japanese business
man that has created a highly successful business with
hundreds of stores throughout the country. At first I
thought my friend was going to be telling me about the "how
to" of business success, but instead the story took quite a
different path than I was expecting. What follows is my
version of an inspiring story.
The man in my story had actually failed at numerous
businesses over the years. He started out with a large and
successful family business, but he ran that business into
the ground and eventually went bankrupt. After his
bankruptcy he said, "Even though my business had failed, I
did not feel like I had failed. I still had confidence in
myself. I still knew that I could do something good. I
didn't try to figure out all the details of what I had done
right or wrong, I didn't try to understand whether I was a
good business man or a bad business man. I just continued to
believe in myself, and the vision that I had."
After his bankruptcy he searched around and managed to
borrow some money for a new business. In a reasonably short
amount of time he ran this business into bankruptcy as well.
Afterwards he said, "Even more so now, I still had
confidence in myself. I had seen some flashes of brilliance,
and I knew that I could do something good. Once again, I
didn't try to figure out right or wrong, good or bad, I only
concentrated on how I could borrow more money and start all
So, he manages to borrow some more money, and starts another
business, and of course this business also goes bankrupt, or
I wouldn't be telling this story! After his third bankruptcy
he said "I knew I was getting closer to getting it right."
What a fantastic spirit this guy has! He has huge confidence
in the face of big time short term failure.
Back out on the streets he went, and this time he only
managed to borrow a rather small sum of money. Not being
able to start a "real" business with such a limited amount
of cash, he rented a small Japanese pick-up truck. (The
small ones are REALLY small. Sort of like a bonsai version
of an American pick-up truck). With little money to spend he
shopped around in various wholesale markets and wound up
deciding to only buy things that he could sell cheaply with
no seeming connection to the various products, except that
they were inexpensive and of reasonable quality. He loaded
his goods into the back of his tiny pick-up truck and parked
illegally on a busy street where he hawked his wares to the
passersby, and the launch of a new retail phenomena had
begun. Over time he parleyed the success he had with his one
tiny truck, into a chain of highly successful stores.
When asked to what he attributed his success, he replied
"Believing in myself, and not picking apart all of my pluses
and minuses." He said, "Right from the beginning I knew that
I could be successful. When I failed the first time I
suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands since I no
longer had a business to run. I figured that I basically had
two choices in regard to what to do with my time: 1. Do a
lot of thinking about what went wrong and try to correct my
many mistakes in the future. Or: 2. Take the time to relax
and gain a new perspective on life. I of course chose the
latter. From a relaxed state I was able to understand things
that I was not able to understand when I was running around
trying to be successful. I knew that dissecting what I had
done right and wrong would eat up a lot of time and energy,
and most likely not give me the formula for success. I knew
that the formula for success was already inside of me, and
that my job was to find a way to allow this formula to be
expressed. I didn't try to understand what to do, I tried to
get myself to the point where I was already doing what I
needed to do."
To me this story offers a great deal of inspiration.
Continuing to believe in myself regardless of the challenges
to be faced, is a gift that I have often struggled to give
myself. It is wonderful to be presented with such a fine
example to learn from. The faith this man has in himself can
be a gift to all of us. And at the same time I can't help
but chuckle when thinking what a business consultant might
say about this man's method for conducting business.
This story also reminds me of an article I read in a
business magazine a number of years ago. The story told of
the careers of a number of highly successful business
people, all of whom had "failed" at least three or four
times along the way. Each person in their own words said the
following "I could not be the success I am today, had it not
been for all of my previous failures!"
Do you have some "failures" in your life that possess the
seeds of future success? I am guessing that we all do.
How Well Do You Handle Disappointment?
You are going to experience disappointment at some point in
your life. There’s no escaping it. The only thing we can do is to learn how to handle disappointment before
it handles us.
Seeing Problems in a New Way
I've recently had a major shift in the way I view problems. I used to see them as impediments in the path of accomplishment. Now, I see them as opportunities to get better—chances to be unique in the marketplace.
Ten Thousand Failures
The ability to accept so-called failure simply as information and then make corrections without self-invalidation is rare. However, it is a critical key to success. Accepting defeat or criticism is never easy, but it is those people who take feedback and make corrections who create lasting success.