Thursday, August 26, 2010

When I Stop Talking...

I just finished Jerry Weintraub's book, When I Stop Talking You'll Know I'm Dead, about his years as a businessman, talent agent, booking manager for musicians and eventually producer of wildly successful movies like the Ocean's Eleven franchise. His book was fun, light, and frivolous, with lots of name-dropping and entertaining stories of how he solved problems and made millions.

He ended the book with a few lines which summarized his philosophy and ideas. He said, "I asked if I did not know. I listened when someone else was talking. I sold with joy, so my products were fun to buy. Most important, I was never afraid to fail, which meant I was never afraid to try. I was never afraid to look silly, which meant I was never threatened by a new idea."

I really enjoyed the book, but I was especially inspired by these final thoughts. I thought they were words to live by, to hang my work ethic on and trust to get me through the rough patches. The older I get, the easier it is for me to look silly, but when I was younger, I wasn't willing to risk being perceived as foolish. I understand now that failing is a huge part of success. No one gets it right all of the time.

I'm entrepreneurial by nature and always have been. In my twenties, I started a variety of small companies, all of which failed. In my early thirties, when I decided I wanted to stay home with Ava, I joined Stampin' Up as a demonstrator and taught workshops in people's homes for rubber stamping and paper crafting. I was quite successful in this venture, and quickly built myself a thriving business for the first time.

Then we moved a province over, and I had to start from scratch. I didn't work as hard at my business in Alberta because William's first few months of infancy were a blur to me, a by-product of my unbridled ambition to succeed. I realized I had missed moments that I would never get back, and I decided to dial back my business. It was a good decision, but the part of me that loved the thrill of success became starved and eventually faded into the background.

I don't regret putting my kids first, especially because I didn't give William the same attention and care that Ava received as a tiny baby, and that fact still haunts me. But I was happy to realize that the old ambition is alive and well, even if it did need to be coaxed back into the light, and now in writing I'm finally doing exactly what I've always wanted to do.

Having permission to fail gives you the confidence to try for success. The two concepts are interrelated. I realized this later than I would've liked, but lessons come when we are ready to learn them, and I'm glad it's never too late to embrace the ideas that will place us on our own paths to freedom and personal satisfaction.

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