Failing Forward

JM Family photo

I’m not gonna lie. There are some days (like today) I wake up wondering what the heck was I thinking starting my own business? I must be out of my mind. Today I felt completely overwhelmed by the all the details involved in running my business. I feel so green and sometimes embarrassed at having to ask so many questions. Every few minutes I quoted Marie Forleo’s, “Everything is figureoutable,” to myself.

According to a Bloomberg article on, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. Statistics like those can be so discouraging to someone like me who is just starting her own biz. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs: my parents own real estate offices and real estate, my grandfather owned night clubs, and my great-grandparents owned hotels in Dallas, TX. I like to remind myself of those facts to help me better understand my own drive to want to own my own business. Those facts also boost my confidence on the difficult days as I tell myself that if my own flesh and blood had what it takes to thrive in their business ventures, then I do, too.

Despite my entrepreneurial lineage, my inner critic can still be relentless. She tells me I’m not smart enough, resourceful enough, driven enough, etc., to run a business (Hello, limiting beliefs!). I start thinking about how much easier it might be to get a job and build my business slowly on the side. Right around the time I seem to be mentally beating myself up the hardest because I don’t feel like I’m enough, a proverbial light will shine through and it hits me:

Remember your “WHY”.

This inner guidance will get me to stop and take a couple of deep breaths as I go back to the heart of why I started this business in the first place. For me, speaking and sharing/publishing Andrew’s books, A Gray Faith and The Ellie Project, birthed out of a calling I couldn’t deny. A calling to share my husband’s messages and his character with the world since he would not be able to.

There was no doubt in my mind of the call when I saw Andrew joyfully signing the first batch of copies of A Gray Faith from his hospital bed at M.D. Anderson, even though he was hooked up to all kinds of machines. There was no question that I would be the one to take his messages and share them with the world. It was a, “Heck, YES! I will find a way. I will figure this out no matter what.” Somedays I just have to go back to my big “WHY”, my motivation for speaking, sharing, and writing books. It doesn’t make the days I have a whole lot of stuff to figure out any less difficult to figure out, but it pushes me through to find a solution to those seemingly impossible business problems, instead of burying me under them for good.

I think it’s really important we give ourselves the patience and the freedom to make mistakes and to learn as we go. By nature I am a perfectionist, to the point I normally won’t attempt anything I don’t think I will be good at, but letting go of my need to control the outcome and trusting I will learn, even in the mistakes (especially in the mistakes), was one of the many lessons I learned from Andrew along the way. He wasn’t afraid to try new things and put his ideas out there, even if no one else agreed with his opinion. Especially at the end of his life, he felt free to try things he’d always wanted to do, he just didn’t have enough time to do them all.

Watching him inspired me to spread my wings a little more and to see life through the lens of an experiment, an experiment where we learn from the things that go well and we also learn from the things that don’t. This approach will allow me to make positive strides forward, instead of holding on to the beliefs I am not enough or if I make a mistake it will be the end of the world, which would keep me stuck. It’s all part of the process of learning, growing, and improving.

I was venting to my dad today about my business struggles and this is what he shared with me, “You have to be willing to fail if you want to succeed. Behind every successful entrepreneur you’re going to find more failures than you will successes in their lives. So you have to be willing to fail if you want to succeed.”

So today I encourage you to not be afraid to ask questions, throw your idea out there, start a new project, cook a new recipe, launch your blog, write that book, etc. It’s what we don’t do that we will regret the most. Put yourself out there because you are the only you there will ever be, and the world could use exactly what you have to share. Grateful to have you with me today! Blessings.

PS – Check out Andrew’s children’s book, The Ellie Project, and share the gift of learning the ABCs, as well as build character lessons that will last a lifetime, with a special child in your life. To get your copy of The Ellie Project or The Ellie Project Stationery Set, click here!