For nearly 30 years, Jim has maintained a newsletter correspondence with his loyal clients.
For all of the youngsters reading this, newsletters are like blog posts--just better.
Read on for some of Jim's "greatest hits" and musings on business and life.
Overcoming Adversity (February 2011)
If there is one subject I feel fully qualified to write on, it is overcoming adversity. As someone who has survived a myriad of health issues my entire life, and yet managed to live a successful and productive one, I have a true understanding of adversity. I am a triple organ transplant recipient who last year had to endure a partial amputation of my right foot. I am constantly meeting people who ask me how I deal with all that I have. My response is simple: “What option to I have?” The truth is we are not really prepared to life’s adversity - even knowing that we may eventually have to deal with it. In fact, we are perpetually groomed for success rather than how to deal with failure. We now give all our kids trophies just for being a member of the team. This way, there are no winners and no losers. Unfortunately, as we later find out in life, there is success and failure, and losing is a vital part of the equation.
Society punishes us for failure. It tells us that failure (and risk overall) is bad and undesired. Schools teach us that failure is unacceptable. Socially, for the past century, particularly in the post-war era as we’ve moved from an agrarian society to a manufacturing society, we’ve been taught to adhere to the status quo, keep our heads down, fall in line, minimize all risk, seek safety and pursue a steady job/income, and we’ve been strongly admonished not to pursue anything that might be considered different or entrepreneurial, as “it’s too risky.” The financial system, especially combined with any court action, puts you on a deadly spiral should you happen to stumble or wholly fail (i.e., bad credit, medical issue, divorce, child support). People who do experience failure are ostracized from their communities and rarely forgiven - and strangely enough, even fellow entrepreneurs have been known to ostracize a person’s failures like he/she has a sickness that they don’t want to catch.
On the flip side, there are others who embrace failure, understanding it can be a precursor to future success. These are people who are able to accept their failures, extract lessons from them and move on in hopes of something brighter. We see it all the time in sports where the underdog comes from behind, overcomes the odds and prevails. We admire and respect the athletes who overcome previous failures to achieve success. As much as the entrepreneurial community says it embraces failure, when it really comes down to it in practice, it’s often untrue. Companies that fail or file bankruptcy are stigmatized for years - as are the individuals who ran them. Why do we not treat them like our athletic teams and believe next year will be better?
In my opinion, it is critical to understand that failure happens. It is how we respond to it that separates us from the rest. You should not be afraid to fail, realizing that lessons can be learned. Trust the process and be confident in yourself. Failing at something does not make you a failure of a person. Get back up again and don’t stop trying. Surround yourself with positive people who can help you overcome adversity and who gladly share in your success. Lastly, believe in the positive and then get ready for your next opportunity.