Failure: The Worst of 2018
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
― Thomas A. Edison
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Failure: How do you deal with it when it hits you head on?
I have failed at a lot of things in life. Failed at several ideas for businesses, failed at friendships, failed at getting that first class at University, relationships and even family ties have been broken but the most difficult failure I've had to come to terms with was failing with distribution for the magazine.
Since launching the magazine in 2013 and transitioning to print in 2016, I have had to learn on the job as I go; on my own, so to speak. And I am still learning, occasionally making very costly mistakes that end up as significant lessons. I continued to move forward because I felt a desperate need (and still do) to make VMM a publication unlike any others on the market.
After printing my first volume, I realised social media wouldn't be enough to get the sales. I convinced myself I needed visibility out there in the bookstores. I started with reaching out to a couple of bookstores; a lot of work considering I am practically doing it all by myself. After getting the interest of a few stores both local and international and agreeing to a percentage, I realised I didn't have the financial power to post to Europe and the rest of the world as posting boxes of the magazine was and still is very expensive. I had to settle for a couple of UK stores. Later in the year I was excited to receive an email from a distributor here in the U.K.
We discussed costs and how many stores they could reach just here in the U.K. The offer had upsides and downsides. I could gain greater visibility and grab the attention of buyers in more than 50 stores in the U.K. but I would be making a huge loss sharing the percentage between the distributor, the stores and myself.
I felt visibility would be good for the magazine, and as we’re encouraged to take risks to get ahead so I went for it. I thought I had to take the risk to know if it was the right decision but the risk ended badly for me. I supplied the distributor with 250 copies of my fourth volume (VISION) and, after 7/8 months, I was told only 25 copies had sold in all. I was in complete shock and disbelief. On top of all that, I was not aware that the remaining unsold copies would not be returned to me but actually destroyed. To say I was distraught and beside myself would be an understatement. I was angry, outraged, in devastating pain and ashamed. I cried for days on end. I couldn't believe it. Not only did the magazine not sell as expected but one of the stores told the distributor that it was one of the worst in his store and would NEVER make it in the magazine world. Having well over 200 copies destroyed hurt me greatly because these were not just throwaway glossy trashy magazines, they are actual books printed to the highest quality and to be valued for years to come. I'd put my heart and soul, time and money into that publication. All I could think about was how my investment had gone down the drain. I was beside myself and absolutely livid at my ignorance of how things actually worked, expecting the distributors to educate me how things were done knowing clearly that I was new to the market and to the terms of distribution. I questioned how I could have been so stupid. I couldn’t see past this epic fail.
With all that, I was in the middle of working on the next volume (Modern Muse) and didn't know what to do or how to go on. Was there any point in going on? What was the point of it all, I kept asking myself. This was a failure of epic proportions, a tragic mess. I've never endured a failure this big. Admitting it healed me and helped me to see where I went wrong. Admitting my failing helped me see the lessons and taught me how to do things differently. And this is the thing about failing: you truly have to see it as a lesson or you won’t be able to move forward. You'll become trapped. I work hard on a daily basis to avoid this mentality because it is crippling mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
What did I learn from this failure? I learnt that sometimes what you think will work doesn't work. It doesn't mean you give up, it just means you find another way and keep going.
I also learnt that mistakes are unavoidable in business. They may be very costly but they help you learn and ultimately progress.
I also learnt that it's ok to fail and embrace it. Cry, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving.
As embarrassing as it is to admit this blunder, it is also very liberating. I can't give up on my huge vision. As much as I want to manifest my dream quickly, I must learn to start small and grow bigger. Patience is a virtue.
Not being able to distribute to the stores going forward is sad but it means I will receive 100% of whatever I sell, which will, in turn, be ploughed back into the printing of the next volume. I don't see why people won't want to purchase online when they shop online all the time. It will be small steps for me going forward, small but mighty steps, in the pursuit of what sets my creative soul on fire.
Remember I mentioned above how one of the stores told the distributor that VMM would not make it? Well, I wrote back to my liaison at the distributors and told him to watch and see. The day is coming when that store will want to stock VMM. I believe in the vision that God has given me. I know who I am and who I have been called to be and the vision has been blessed and certified from above. No man can influence its course or put it down. It may not seem like it right now but it will manifest because I know my Creator and He does not lie. VMM will be bigger than my vision for it.
Your failures and challenges along the way are full of valuable lessons you can use to increase your vision and your outcome. Do not be ashamed of them. Do not be afraid to admit your mistakes. All successful people, both dead and alive, have failed but eventually succeeded because they did not let failure keep them down. As this piece by writer Mo Abraham states:
“If Thomas Edison had believed in failure… we would still be living in darkness. If Henry Ford had given up, we would still be riding on horseback…if Alexander Graham Bell had given in to the clutches of failure, we would be spending less time staring at those small plastic things we call phones that rule our lives.
Anyone who has achieved ANYTHING great, anyone who has CHANGED THE WORLD has at some point made a choice to embrace failure instead of fighting it.
If you look at the most inspirational innovators, athletes, geniuses and icons throughout history, they all shared a common belief – they simply did not entertain the notion of failure as a bad thing.
Instead, they understood that every failure encountered brings you one step closer to success, and that this is a natural part of the process. Some even enjoyed failure! If you think about it, failure is just feedback; it’s simply showing you what’s not working so you can find out what will work. It’s necessary and can’t be avoided.
If we didn’t have failure, how would we know what to do next? The process of learning from our mistakes is truly invaluable and is something we need to run toward, not run away from.
By reading stories of successful people, you are not going to gain much. Instead if you read stories of people who failed, you will learn many lessons, which will help you to avoid trouble in your life and take the direct route to success”. MO Abraham, Personal Development With Success Ingredients: Step-by-Step Guide for Success, Wealth & Happiness...
As Ekaterina Walter also wrote on Forbes, “It seems that failure tends to be more public than success. Or at least that’s what we perceive it to be. We fret it, we try to avoid it, and we question ourselves every time we have unconventional ideas. But the simple truth is – no great success was ever achieved without failure. It may be one epic failure. Or a series of failures – such as Edison's 10,000 attempts to create a light bulb or Dyson’s 5,126 attempts to invent a bag less vacuum cleaner. But, whether we like it or not, failure is a necessary stepping-stone to achieving our dreams”.
Let that sink in and absorb it. I have fallen in love with failing and don’t fret as much now. I took the lessons i gathered from this failure to do things differently with volume 5 Modern Muse and in less than a week, volume 5 was and is SOLD OUT. Yes you read right, SOLD OUT. If i had let the shame of failing stop me from pushing through and launching volume 5, wouldn’t that have been a sad shame? It definitely would have been. Understanding the lessons and even looking forward to the lessons has pushed away my severe fear of failure and I hope it has yours too after reading my testimony.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I greatly appreciate it. Feel free to share your thoughts below. Again thanks for your time and sharing in my journey.
Image by Mareunrol’s, Featured in Volume 1 Genesis