If your business is struggling or (worse still) you have recently been through a small business collapse don’t be too hard on yourself. Let me let you in on a dirty little secret, there are plenty of people who make a substantial long term living out of being a (so-called) failure.

Of course, it’s important to learn lessons, but failure is just a state of mind. The trick is how you deal with it. It’s easy to keep going over and over what you perceive as your past failures. I know I’ve been there, but there are plenty of people who fail consistently and do very well, thank you.

People do terrible things, but they don’t see it that way. There is a great story in Dale Carnegie book How to win friends and influence people about a character who was around in the 1930’s known as two gun Crowley. Perhaps his nickname suggests he was not a fine upstanding pillar of the community.

To cut a long story short, after a three-month crime spree that included bank robbery, murder and attempted murder, he fought a long gun battle with police. When he was overcome and dragged wounded but alive from his hideout police found a note he had written during quiet periods in the battle. It stated, “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one — one that would do nobody any harm.”

People fail, but they are well capable of persuading themselves otherwise. It was someone else’s fault, or the conditions were not right. There was that event they weren’t expecting, or they weren’t given the resources they needed.

There is a breed of senior marketing people who go from one high profile position to the next. If you look at their linked in profile it will be stellar, but look closer and you will see that they tend to stay in a position only for eighteen months or so. Yep, you guessed it. That is how long it takes them to fail.

Do you think it bothers them? Do you think it keeps them awake at night – no. The narrative they build protects them from that.

To be fair to the high flying marketers in our example they may know upfront their leaders have unrealistic expectations. Perhaps they know that failure is inevitable, but are prepared to play the game.

It is always worth taking a second look at the assumptions you make about the world around you. You could find those who come across as successful are not what they (wish to) portray.

It is all about their presentation and our (often flawed) perception of their success. So if the worst happens, try to block out the negativity and go again. Easy to say but not so easy to do. Remember some have made a very successful career out of ongoing failure, but don’t see it that way.

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