The Magnificent Freedom in Not Being Fazed by Failure February 05 2016, 1 Comment
I was in Southport running errands when I got the call from the driver. He and his assistant had turned onto route 211 in Supply and were giving me the 20 minute warning of their arrival. I told them to meet me behind the building, so that they could deliver through the double doors, directly into the kitchen.
The delivery took all of ten minutes, the equipment that I had agonized over for months, carefully researched, and ultimately committed to soon before Christmas, that two men carried in and arranged per my specifications on an early February afternoon.
As the truck pulled away, my gaze pinged, from the oven, to the three part sink, to the refrigerator, to the prep table, over and over again. I stood back against the wall and allowed by body to slowly slide to the ground, where I sat and called my friend Christine.
“I’m having a life moment,” I whispered into her voice mail. Everything that I had planned for in the past five months suddenly seemed very real.
Planning stages are just that. They are for planning. My spreadsheets and lists and research on everything from credit card merchants to FDA regulations were all theory at that point versus practice. There is safety in theory. We’re not “in it” when we’re in theory, although perhaps close. Yet, that afternoon when the oven arrived, was that moment when I was about to cross that experiential line between being a budding entrepreneur to becoming the owner of a business open to the public, and open to the criticisms and failures that every business is vulnerable to during its lifespan.
For three weeks, I looked at that oven daily and refused to turn it on.
To me, baking in that oven felt like that “point of no return” where I would need to commit to my business, for better or for worse. It was the first time I had considered the possibility of failure.
Failure is not a pretty word and one that most of us loathe. I think it’s bothered me less through my lifetime than some of my peers because I’ve met enough failures that I’ve been forced to learn acceptance of them, dust myself off and move on. Perhaps that makes me one of the lucky ones. But in early 2014, when I faced off with my oven every day, thinking of reasons to avoid turning it on, I knew I needed to confront the fear, and see it through.
Many of us were raised to believe that not only is “failure is not an option” but that failure is worse than death. It came with the ominous threat of looking bad or making our family look bad. It meant more than failing at something in particular and implied that we ourselves were failures. So many of us have taken on this way of thinking, that isn’t even our thinking but the learned thinking of a parent or the culture in which we live that it begs the following questions:
- Is failure really the worst thing in this world?
And the even more important question:
- Whose life are we actually living? Are we trying to meet our own expectations or the expectations of one of our influencers?
You can’t own a business and not be “all in,” and you can’t own a food business without turning on your oven. In those three weeks, after the delivery of the oven, I had to sort out my feelings and ground myself. And it all boiled down to this:
I was committed to love the heck out of my business and give it everything I had, regardless of the ultimate outcome.
The food industry is fickle. Every one of my customers could decide to quit carbohydrates tomorrow and that would send me under pretty fast. But I can’t worry about that. Not today. Today, I need only be concerned with doing the best I can, making a great product, and making sure that everyone who walks through my doors feels welcomed and appreciated. Because you are.
And I wouldn’t be able to do any of that without this guy.
When I first switched the oven to “on,” the noise was startling. It was louder than I had expected. There was a learning curve of taking the recipes I had created and practiced at home and translating the temperatures and baking time in a commercial unit. Ultimately, the granola baked more evenly than at home. It tasted lighter. The oven allowed me to be more efficient, baking dozens of batches in the course of a day, much more than I ever would have been able to produce without the use of a commercial unit.
It’s remarkable how much can change from flipping a switch.