Overcoming the Urge to Fail

So, here you are with this dream, or better yet, a viable business you’ve started building. In fact, maybe you’re already a success! And yet most businesses fail in their first five years, and although I’d agree with the experts that cash flow is the usual reason, that doesn’t mean that it’s the actual cause.

Many of us are programmed extremely well by our parents, teachers, cultures, religions or other influences, and many of those messages are about NOT succeeding, NOT being outstanding, NOT standing out. In many cases they mean well. They want us to have “realistic” expectations. Happy “normal” lives. They want us to be safe, and not to suffer the pain of failure. They’re not entirely wrong, either. Choosing to be a mover, an initiator, an entrepreneur has risks that their vision of a “normal” life for you wouldn’t have. So let’s concede that many of them mean well.

But here you are, reading this blog – so you’re probably an entrepreneur, a creator, or you have dreams of being one. So let’s talk briefly about some of the ways you may choose to trip yourself up. A little checkup now and then to make sure you’re playing on your own side can’t hurt.


This one’s common enough, and I’m sure feeling some self-doubt is normal for most of us. Where it becomes a problem is where it’s expressed frequently. You see, even if it feels at times like nobody listens to you, you always have an audience of at least one. You are listening, and a frequent, repeated refrain of failure messages… will eventually work. So you need to become adept at hearing your inner voice, acknowledging it with a pat on the shoulder, and then reframing the message a little. Changing “I can’t” to “This is challenging!”. Switching from “I’ll never…” to “I’ve gotten the first steps done!”.


Volumes have been written on this topic, so let’s cut to the chase. You know when you’re procrastinating. You know when you need to get things done. There are two ways to deal with this.

  1. Break the task into smaller parts. Start with one piece and tell yourself you will work on it for a minimum of seven minutes a day. If you get stuck on that piece, pick a different piece, but always commit to a minimum of seven minutes per day. Get a calendar and put it up somewhere prominent and put a big red check on each day when you’ve achieved that goal.
  2. If you can’t get past it that way, you need some help. Get someone else to help you who can understand what you’re dealing with and who will help you move through it. Folks that are getting into (or getting serious about) personal fitness often hire a Personal Fitness Trainer. At Corestone, we can be your Personal Business Trainer. Once you develop the habit of taking successful action, it’s much easier to keep momentum on future projects.

Bad Planning

I’d like to comfort you with “everyone makes mistakes”, and it’s true, but a failure to plan isn’t a mistake. It’s a choice to fail. Since winning and success and financial freedom are far more attractive, I’d suggest switching your choice to that side of the spectrum. If your favored method of choosing failure falls in this area, get some help. Again, two choices. Either take a course on Strategic Planning or Project Management, and learn some skills to help you, or work with someone who has those skills.

We’re not talking a lot of time or expense here. If you don’t have the knowledge to do a cash flow analysis or don’t know how to calculate how much you need to charge per hour to break even, speak to us here at Corestone. You’re talking about less than an hour’s time for a completed spreadsheet analysis, in those particular cases, that is critical to the success of your business. You don’t need to know how to do everything yourself, but you do need to have good judgment about when to get help.

Self-Sabotage Has a Thousand Faces

Well, ok, I hope I’m exaggerating. But it has a lot.

  • Perfectionism
  • Greed
  • Passive Agression
  • Failure to Follow Through
  • Tardiness
  • Egotism
  • Altruism
  • Humility
  • Moodiness
  • Temper
  • Immaturity

Warning: I’m about to generalize horribly. In the context of our businesses, these are usually games we play with ourselves, because we’re not yet ready to succeed, or change. We’re still too caught in fear, and usually enmeshed in the past or the future rather than the now.

If you tell yourself that one of your prime goals in life is the success of your business venture, you only have three choices.

  1. Quit
  2. Keep it like it is now
  3. Change it

Change can be done alone, or with help. You have to be ready, and only you can choose.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 5:58 pm and is filed under Self-Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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