“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard
A while back, I was invited to attend the Asian Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd Annual Awards Gala. Focused on “The Spirit of Entrepreneurship,” the Asian Chamber of Commerce celebrated individuals who exemplified great leadership skills in the Houston community.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Lynda Chin, surprised me by talking about failure. A scientist, Dr. Chin is the first to admit medical mistakes. She talked about cancer-related pharmaceuticals having a 95% failure rate, because the medication needs to be tailor-made to the individual.
I had never heard someone in a high-ranking position admit to failure so freely. But as she put it, “There is no success without failure. There are no experiments that succeed before first failing.”
So in essence failure is the stepping-stone toward success.
Another person who inspired me that night was Keiji Asakura, an urban design and landscape architect. A botanist, without the degree, he was a lover of plant life. Asakura was another model of someone who was able to take his mistakes and use them as the fundamental building blocks of his successes.
One day nearly 10 years ago, his company filed for bankruptcy, and on the same day his wife asked him for a divorce. Life couldn’t have been any worse. In the depths of despair he asked himself, “Why do I do what I do?” The answer: Because I love it.
Because he loved it. Hearing those words from someone not in entertainment reminded me of why I do what I do. Because I love it. Without that love there would be no point in enduring this much anxiety in anticipation of something greater.
People tell me all the time that they admire me for going after what I really want. But people only see what they want to; they forget that behind every truly large success, there are a million failures. For every good sentence that I write, there are thousands more that need to be rewritten.
So far, in my adult career, where I’m at now is my lowest point. There is nothing on the horizon that promises that the work I’m doing now will pay off. My life is a gamble.
My Dad actually—I say “actually” because he only inadvertently supported my career choice—said, “In every business there is a risk, but without risk there is no potential to prosper. You simply have to take it.”
He was talking to me about opening my own business, offering support for any kind of endeavor I might wish to take on. Little did he know, those words would be the tipping point for a drastic career shift.
I was talking to an editor of mine the other day and he asked me how I was liking Houston. As I began describing the things I love about the city, he told me he was jealous because it sounded like paradise.