I had the pleasure of attending Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle in New York City. Among the amazingly, inspiringly informative presenters was real estate mogul and Shark Tank star, Barbara Corcoran. Her topic: How I Turned $1000 Into a Billion Dollar Business and The 10 Lessons I learned along the way. I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on each of the lessons that she shared, over the next few posts in this series.
Lesson #1: Learn to be great at failure.
For a recovering perfectionist such as me, this was tremendous advice. Perfectionism is one of those dis-eases that will stop you from living Life at every turn. Why? If you think you need to do everything perfectly, when do you give yourself the opportunity to learn something new? “What a ridiculous premise,” you say. Of course you’re going to take time to learn something before you expect to do it “perfectly.” What’s your learning curve? How many times do you try something before you think, “I should HAVE this by now?” Well – some things may take longer than others. And what if you NEVER arrive at a perfect delivery? Does that mean you shouldn’t bother doing it? Here’s the thing: if you don’t do it often enough, you’ll NEVER get good at it! I am no longer embarrassed to admit that it took me a very long time to get over the notion of needing to be perfect.
Where did that belief come from in the first place? I can hear my Nana’s voice, ringing in my ears: “If you’re not gonna do it right, don’t do it all.” I’m certain that this was her way of compelling me to do the absolute best job I could do, when completing any task (cleaning the bathroom; washing dishes; ironing clothes; sweeping the floor). However, based on her standards for excellent performance – the message I heard was do it right the first time. That’s not what she meant, but at the age of 8 or 9 years old, that’s what I got. Over the years, her words have inspired me to do whatever I did well and thoroughly. However, when I thought I couldn’t deliver with those two standards, I often didn’t attempt them. Or I procrastinated to the point of nearly missing the deadline, or missing the opportunity altogether. Given those two factors:
- Going for excellence instead of perfection.
- Delivering in the face of falling short of excellence.
Barbara Corcoran’s advice is priceless. She reported that when she is interviewing anyone for a job, she looks for every indication concerning how they handle failure. For her, the key to a person’s resilience is, “how long does he/she feel sorry for themselves, after failing at, or losing something big?”
In other words, when you’re trying something new:
- Focus on the effort, as much as the outcome.
- More importantly, if you fall short of your expectations or desires, or even if you fail miserably, don’t let that deter you from dusting yourself off, and taking another run at your target.
© 2012, Shakira Abdul-Ali. All rights reserved.