Success Is Failure Turned Inside Out

by Ash Kumra

This chapter is a free excerpt from Confessions from an Entrepreneur (Volume 1).

Lisa Nicole Bell: Entrepreneur, Public Speaker & Social Change Advocate

Napoleon Hill once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” This statement reflects the truth about entrepreneurship and its many ups and downs.

About a year after I started one of my companies, I wanted to transition into doing work on an international scale in order to expand the brand and position the company for growth. I decided to organize a series of international trips that would take young women from the United States to countries abroad for personal development workshops and expeditions. I was so excited about the program that I told anyone who would listen. I emphasized the many benefits the attendees would receive and how we could even volunteer in the host country and make a positive difference.

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Lisa Nicole Bell: Entrepreneur, Public Speaker & Social Change Advocate

Napoleon Hill once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” This statement reflects the truth about entrepreneurship and its many ups and downs.

About a year after I started one of my companies, I wanted to transition into doing work on an international scale in order to expand the brand and position the company for growth. I decided to organize a series of international trips that would take young women from the United States to countries abroad for personal development workshops and expeditions. I was so excited about the program that I told anyone who would listen. I emphasized the many benefits the attendees would receive and how we could even volunteer in the host country and make a positive difference.

While everyone seemed supportive of the idea, I struggled to get traction for it and launch the program. The applications came in very slowly, and we never received enough of them to comprise an entire group. I eventually had to accept that the program wouldn’t happen. I was devastated and took the failure very personally. I internalized the fact that the program didn’t happen as an indication of my lack of intelligence and ability as an entrepreneur.

A couple of years later, I received an email from a woman who oversaw a program through the Ministry of Gender and Development in Liberia. She wanted to know if my company could create a program for a group of young women there. I was happy to inform her that we could and that we had started working on programs designed to be delivered in other countries. She excitedly signed on to work with us, and we delivered a 20 week program to girls in Liberia. They learned a broad range of critical skills including leadership, assertiveness, effective communication, and goal-setting. We went on to conduct other international programs as a result of our success in Africa. The lesson I took away from the experience was on failure. I realized that failure can be the springboard for success if you have the right attitude. Even after my initial idea failed, I continued working on different yet related ideas and kept them ready. When the right opportunity came along, I was prepared to say yes.

As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve worked in multiple industries and therefore had to learn a bevy of new skills. In many cases, the first time I attempted something was awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes flat out wrong. I kept going because I realized that failure is the predecessor of success. Anyone who wishes to be successful must decide that nothing is more important than learning, growing, and expanding in order to achieve success.

I often tell new entrepreneurs to work tirelessly on themselves. Most times, entrepreneurs assume they should be working tirelessly on a business, but the reality is this: Your business will never be better than you are. Your business is a mirror that will reflect many truths back to you. It will show you where you thrive and where you can improve. It will show you what you value and what you disregard. Above all else, your business will stretch you because it will show you holes that have to be filled with new knowledge and skills.

When you rise each morning, your first and primary concern should be improving on yesterday’s best. It’s easy to observe other entrepreneurs who seem more successful and wonder what they’re doing right or envy their achievements. Avoid this at all costs. Stay in your lane, and keep your eyes on your major goals. Consistently giving each day your best is the most powerful way to avoid regret. If you’ve done all you can and your efforts fall short, you can get back up and try again or decide to move on to something else. Either way, your self-respect remains intact.

Your circumstances don’t define you; you define your circumstances. Allow failures to nourish your courage and prepare you for success.

* * * * *

Lisa is the founder and CEO of Inspired Life Media Group where she and her team conceive, develop, produce, and manage a slate of socially relevant digital destinations and multimedia properties. As an entertainment professional and entrepreneur, Lisa’s projects and companies have earned various awards and nominations including the NAACP Image Award, the Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Cable Positive Award. Lisa was named a Woman Making A Difference by the Los Angeles Business Journal and was listed as a Breakout Business Mogul by YFS Magazine. She has been featured on dozens of media outlets internationally including Forbes, Reuters, Huffington Post, American Entertainment Magazine, Essence, WomenPR, Mashable, American Express Open Forum, and Under 30 CEO.
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