by Gini Dietrich
I'm a perfectionist. I've never really failed at anything. So when I do something that is not perfect, I make a big mistake, or I do something I think people will perceive as failure, I'm REALLY hard on myself. I make mistakes every day. Sometimes they're little. Sometimes they're huge. And I beat myself up every time.
One year ago, my company had a couple of "life-changing" events. Each of them, alone, could have put us out of business. They both happened within six weeks of each other. I went into a pretty deep depression. I beat myself up. Why didn't I pay attention to the signs? How did I not know our industry is a key leading indicator of the economy? Why did I do some things my gut told me not to do? Were people going to think that I had a good three year run, but I couldn't grow a business beyond that? How was I going to tell my staff we had to close? How was I going to tell our clients? How was I going to pay our outstanding vendor bills? Why had I built a business only to have nothing to show for it?
And then I happened across a Confucius quote that shook me and brought me out of my self-doubt. "It's not in that we fail, but in how we pick ourselves up when we do."
I learned that it's okay to fail. It's how human beings learn. I went back to the office on January 5, 2009, ready to kick butt and take names! We ventured on a new path and shook up our business model. We had to do some lay-offs in January. We had to reorganize the business. I had to make some very hard, personal decisions. But the business is back in the black, every single team member is a rock star, we're doing the work we love to do, and our culture now embodies everything I've envisioned for the past four years. I wouldn't have done this had I not made some pretty big mistakes last year, had the economy not tanked, and had I accepted the status quo.
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