I'm proud to say that my son Liam completed his Eagle Scout requirements this March. After his presentation to the Eagle Board, we were driving home and I asked him how it felt. He said it felt so good and he was glad he never quit. It would have been easy to just walk away, with the pressure of applying to schools, SATs, his non-scouting social life and his part-time job.So how did this young person get it all done? He was flexible. He invited all his non-scouting friends into his Eagle project, he worked scouting requirements with mentors and made some choices about the activities he could do. He led himself to the accomplishment.It is so easy to just quit, and equally as easy to just keep doing the same thing. When do you determine that a good idea is really no good, and quit? When do you decide that regardless of the obstacles and challenges, that you stubbornly keep going? The answer may be in a balanced combination of stubbornness and flexibility.When telling their story of success, at any level and in any field, people will share the gigantic obstacles, perils, risks and maneuvering they had to go through. They will tell you about all the people who tried to dissuade them, the banks that said no, or the deals that never happened. The true theme, however, is that they never quit. Even if others could not see the prize, they could. Even if they had moments of doubt, they persevered through it. It may look to us like stubbornness, but it might really be passion and tenacity.Just doing the same thing and expecting something else to happen can also be insane, as Albert Einstein once suggested. Having a direction or an intended destination is not the problem, but refusing to change routes can be.What separates one entrepreneur from another is not the big idea, but the method for pursuing it. Just because something did not work the way it was supposed to is not grounds to give up. It is grounds to change something and try again.It's a simple formula that starts with ambition and intention. Once the intention is set, it is bound to come true if you really want it to. Then tenacity carries it forward through all the doubt and challenges, and this leads to failures, likely many of them. Failure tells us what to adjust, and getting it right a few times leads to confidence, and that leads to solutions.The story is always the same, and it never is void of interesting obstacles overcome, broken hearts, lost friends and other troubles. But when the story is finally being told it is the elation of success that matters most. It's overcoming it all.Enjoy failureRegardless if you are steering a large company or deciding what your first assignment will be out of college, reflect on these simple suggestions and see if they work for you: • Decide what your vision is and settle into a solid intention. There is a power of an intention that is difficult to explain, and there are some great books and articles if you want to do more research. Anything you intend on doing will come true with enough maneuvering and time. • Keep your eye on the intention, and be actively tenacious about it. Listen to counsel carefully, and use that advice to make adjustments. Others do not understand your motivation nor have a full understanding of what you want to experience, however, so don't be easily taken off course. Be a little stubborn and keep going. Don't lose the vision. • Adversity is the sorter of success. There will be choices and issues placed on your path that are totally unpredictable. These can become excuses to quit, or ways to strengthen your resolve. Those with less resolve will be sorted out to make your climb a little easier. • Enjoy the failure you experience -- celebrate it. You just discovered what won't work. As good salespeople understand all too well, "go for the no." Now you can refocus on the intention and make your way around the obstacle. • Keep counsel with those who support you. You don't want them to always agree with you, but you need to stay clear of those who always just want you to quit. These people may in fact care about you and not want you to fail. Understand the differences of your advisors' intentions toward the matter.The entrepreneur Thomas Edison once said, "I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work." He had no choice, he had the intention to invent, and he just did.Dr. Russ Ouellette, managing partner of Sojourn Partners, Bedford and creator of The Future of Everything Project, can be reached at 603-472-8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Core project participants on this topic included Dianne Mercier, New Hampshire president of People's United Bank, and Joanne Edgar, president of J Edgar Group.
This article appears in the April 20 2012 issue of New Hampshire Business Review