When I was a brash and self-assured twenty one year old, I announced at a family dinner with my aunt and cousin that I would be a millionaire by the time I was 30. I had found investors and had just started a business. I thought I was invincible living in the big city, and figured I could take on the world and set it on fire with my new products.
It would have been a great story to be able to tell you that over the next 9 years I built an empire through my hard work and ingenuity, lived lavishly and saved the world by eliminating poverty with my earnings, however the truth was much different. Within 2 years, I was back living with my parents, trying to scrape two dimes together to put gas in my car and stressing about how I was going to pay back my investors. I was teased about my million-dollar brag by my aunt and cousin for years to come.
“You are always telling on yourself” he said, “I don’t get it” said one of the regular readers of my column after reading my article that explained my failure in listening and losing a sale. I think I could finish his thoughts like this. “Aren’t you supposed to be some big business expert who is all successful?”
To many I would be considered successful, I have built and sold a multi-million-dollar business, I am happily married and have a beautiful family with 3 wonderful daughters and a son. I live in a nice house in a good neighborhood, drive nice cars and have money in the bank. I have written a book and continue to work for myself doing what I love, which is helping people reduce their stress and earn money with their businesses.
I could tell stories about how I had a great year, how our firm tripled our sales in a concerted effort over 90 days, how we successfully on-boarded staff. I might even brag about how some of our clients were staggeringly successful. However, the reality of the fact is that I too had sleepless nights worrying about my business; that I made mistakes in hiring; that some of my clients didn’t have a stellar year.
It is hard for people to relate to us if they think we are perfect. Our kids don’t want to hear that we never made mistakes when we were teenagers; that we weren’t lost as young adults; that we were perfect parents; that we made a million, or a billion or a trillion dollars by the time we were 30 and never even broke a sweat. Our friends, co-workers, and staff don’t want us telling them that we know everything; that our lives are perfect; that we have it all together and that they are losers.
The human condition is one of brokenness. When we can relate to a friend or a colleague, employee, a business leader or even our own children, letting them know that we understand what they are going through because we had a similar experience and can share their pain, it makes us more human to them.
It would be nice if we could read a story and automatically learn not to repeat the same blunder, but it doesn’t always happen that way. In business and in life, we all make errors in judgement and it’s through these mistakes that we are enabled to learn and hopefully grow. It’s through the honesty in saying “I made a mistake, I am not perfect”, that keeps us humble and able to relate to others.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an Award-Winning Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Made your first million by the time you were 30? Or Not? Dave would love to hear your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org