Building Success One Failure at a Time

 May 17, 2016

success failure

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

It was just an off day. You know the kind, where everything is a little bit off center. Tired from a weekend of yard work and family, I kept misplacing items and making mistakes. Not major ones, just annoying ones.

I spent an hour and a half looking through drawers trying to find my PayPal card reader, all the while reminding myself of my promise to clean out and organize said drawers .  .  . Maybe someday I will actually do this. I’d rather clean up cat vomit and dog droppings than tackle this chore.

I needed the card reader for a book signing I was scheduled to do that afternoon.  When prayers to St. Anthony, finder of lost items, did not work, I went online and discovered I could purchase a PayPal card reader at the local Office Max. Problem solved. I thought about running out right away and getting it in order to be completely ready, but decided it made more sense to stop on my way to the book signing.

“Would you like a bag or did you want to put it in your purse?” the clerk asked as I checked out.

“Purse,” I replied as I put my credit card and receipt back in my billfold. I finished my errands and arrived 45 minutes early to set up my display. When I reached into my purse to make sure I was ready to process checks using my PayPal account, it wasn’t there. I emptied everything out on the table. Still no card reader. I called Office Max.

“Yes, we have it right here for you. Just come to the front register.” I had left it sitting on the counter.

I had twenty-five minutes to drive there, pick up the card reader, and return. The drive was a good fifteen minutes one way. There was no way I could be back in time, but if I didn’t have the card reader I might miss out on a sale. I figured my display was already up, letting people know I was going to be there, so what would it hurt if I were five minutes late. Meanwhile, the library was full of mom’s with kids picking up books after school – my target audience for this book. What an inopportune time to leave.

I safely made it to Office Max and back, all the while thinking how unprofessional I must appear to the library staff that had been helping me. When I got back I had three people waiting for me. When one wanted to pay with a credit card, I fumbled to get the card reader out of the box where it was trapped by multiple layers of tape. Then I turned on my husband’s smart phone (I’m not smart enough for one of my own, preferring my humble flip-phone), had trouble signing into PayPal, but finally it worked.

Again, I was at my unprofessional best. I’m hoping my lack of professionalism came across as endearing. After all, I’m a writer, not a business woman. You expect writers to be quirky. However as an indie writer, I also have to be a business woman, something I’m not good at but I’m getting better.

I made the sale and made one-on-one contact with a reader so it wasn’t an entire failure as the library emptied leaving me alone with the staff who took pity on me and signed up for my newsletter. All in all it had been better than selling books at Expos and craft fairs where booth fees devoured any profit.

And so I reflected again on the words at the beginning of this post by Winston Churchill.

Success is built one failure at a time, some small, some not so small. I’ve done book signings where no-one showed up. This one was a huge success in comparison. I’ve launched books to little acclaim or fanfare. I unsuccessfully submitted a novel to the Kindle Scout program, but in the process I reached a number of new readers. With each supposed failure, I’ve gotten more experience and I’ve collected email addresses and added readers, one reader at a time.

I’m not an overnight success, but I’m building my success one failure at a time!

What about you? What is your experience dealing with failure? How are you turning your failures into success? 

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