The Failure Files: Good Girl and Entrepreneurship Don’t Mix

Too much weight on shoulders leads to failure--image from pixabayFailure. We all experience failure and are taught to be ashamed of it. Only recently phrases like ‘fail fast’ and ‘embrace your failures’ have become popular, allowing us to see failure as an opportunity to learn. To learn from our failures, however, requires us to drag them out of the dark recesses of our past. We need to take a hard look at them, to study them, and harder still, accept them.

I’ve experienced several failures in my first 50 years. My problem: I kept them too close to the surface, unknowingly giving them permission to rule my life. Now, I recognize when they negatively influence my actions and can reframe my thoughts. It still isn’t easy which is why I’m starting The Failure Files, freely giving you the opportunity to learn from my failures. Are you ready?

Failure: too much good girl

This is probably the crux of all my failures. I was a good girl. I don’t even have a memory of causing undue strain on my parents. My younger brothers did plenty of that. School reports that embarrassed my parents. Police visits. Neighbor complaints. Drugs. Abuse. Alcohol. I saw the effects and avoided it all. While my brothers got arrested, I acquired my bachelor’s degree. While my brothers married and divorced twice apiece, I obtained my master’s degree and married.

Because I didn’t want to stir the pot, I tumbled into the obedient world of sheeple. I followed the herd, trusting and believing in a world that was getting ready to kick us all in the teeth. I graduated from high school in the top 10%, I immediately obtained a bachelor’s degree and got a job soon after, filling the non-work time by doing administrative work at my father’s or boyfriend’s place of business.

Failure #1: My good-girl status didn’t save me from unexpectedly losing my first REAL job 10 months later. It didn’t save me from spending a year in the unemployment line. It didn’t help me find a job in my chosen profession.

Recovery action: Go back to school. I obtained my master’s degree a few years later while working for the university to pay my education. During this time, I married and had my first child.

Failure #2: It took 10 years to find a job in my profession. I jumped on it, consequently accepting a salary that was 64 cents above minimum wage. Following 8 years of dedicated employment, my salary peeked at $9.08/hour.

Recovery action: I quit my job, without a follow up plan. I tentatively began my new business. In 2008.

Failure #3: Viewing divorce as failure. Playing all the society rules for life, marriage, career, contribution, and sacrifice didn’t save me from the sorrows of divorce. Even worse, I caved in to the embarrassment my parents expressed (We’re terrible parents. How did we go wrong?) and the emotional intimidation my husband heaped on me (my job will suffer, my credit score will suffer, it will take you too long to find another job—just like before). As a result, I wore my (I mean their) shame and disappeared with little to cling to. Hope, confidence, and stability shattered.

Recovery action: I recognized that my long-standing goodie-goodie status got me NOWHERE! Reality hit hard and I realized life gave no favors. I was overdue to be me without the constraints of what everyone expected me to be.

When I began my business, however, I struggled to fully release the good girl mentality.

Failure #4: Taken advantage of, under paid, and pushed aside. The business world does not tolerate goodie-goodies. It interacts with people who are willing to take risks, stand up for themselves, and don’t falter.

Recovery action: Take risks and chances without concern for what others think. Especially relevant: I had to be willing to upset the status quo.

It took a while to learn this and depleted my time, energy, and finances.

Lesson to Share

This isn’t a woe-is-me story, but a story I share because of the lessons learned. I had been over-manipulated by a youth where I saw the negative side of breaking the rules then inaccurately transferred that to all aspects of life and career. I learned that playing by the rules doesn’t guarantee anything other than being stomped upon. Breaking a few rules, as in doing something out of the ordinary, gets you noticed. The world likes those that shake up the world in a positive way.

My challenge to you: Let go, refuse to be haunted by your failures and surge forward to become happier, freer, and more confident.

How will you positively shake up the world?

Kristen Edens