The years were 2008 and 2009. These were the years when the catastrophic subprime mortgage fiasco occurred, which affected a lot of businesses and individuals here in the US and around the world. It was also during those years when I was in school pursuing my MBA.
I had a few job interviews lined up from some of the biggest banking and financial companies in the US. Unfortunately, all of them cancelled my interviews because of what was going on in the business world. No company had offered me a job before graduating in May 2009.
Determined as ever, I applied to at least 50 jobs for the next four months after graduation. I was interviewed by 12 companies in different industries but still did not get any job offer.
One of my professors in college once told me that the best thing I could do was to create something out of nothing. She knew how creative and resourceful I was in my college days. So, I created a retail business with my sisters that we could call our own family business.
In August 2009, “Hatid Pinoy” (translation in English as “Bringing Filipinos”) was born. Our business sold handcrafted bags and accessories from the Philippines. The business was thriving in its first year as many customers took notice of our products. We were selling our products in different states through craft shows, mall kiosks, and military concessions.
Unfortunately, our business started bleeding money after a year or so of operation…. I mean a ton of money. Being the person who had a business degree, I tried to revive it but all my efforts failed. Closing the business was one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my entire life. I felt that I failed myself and my family.
Looking back at those years, the consistent failures I experienced were something that could have easily discouraged me from pursuing other endeavors. Luckily, I used them to succeed and came out better than ever.
Here are the successes that resulted from my failures:
1. Success in building character
Few people have asked me several times if I would ever want to change my experiences during those dark years. My answer have always been ‘No’.
Life has its way of teaching us valuable lessons we carry throughout our lifetime. I have to say the failures I went through allowed me to strengthen the foundation of my core values. They helped me know more about myself, what I was capable of, and what my strengths and weaknesses were. They defined who I really was as a person. I never thought that they would work to my advantage but they did.
There is no perfect life in this world. There will come a time when you will struggle or fail to succeed. This day will come and it is just a matter of time. When it comes, always try your best but don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t stress and punish yourself for experiencing failure. It’s ok to question yourself. But never question yourself to a point that you discredit your own core values. Let this failure be your source of strength. It is through failure that we learn to be the best version of ourselves.
2. Success in defining true friends
As cliché as it sounds, it is during the time of struggles that you get to know who your true friends are. When I was struggling to even survive with paying my bills because my company was bleeding money, a lot of my friends distanced themselves from me.
Even when I was not asking for any help, they still thought I was there to ask them for help when I was only seeking for moral support. I really felt abandoned. I believe that my struggles happened for several reasons. One of those reasons was for me to know who my true friends were.
Failures have a beneficial effect in that they reveal the truth in your surroundings. I had always thought that I chose the right friends for me, the ones who would be there through thick and thin. Funny that my failures showed the true colors of those I once considered friends.
Remember true friends will always be there for you no matter what you go through. It’s better to have one true friend who you can always count on and vice-versa no matter what situation is rather than millions of friends who choose not to be there for you when times get rough.
3. Success in managing personal finance
When I closed the business, I failed in two ways (i.e. closing the business and incurring at least $40,000 of debt). It’s a huge amount of money that I first didn’t know how to solve. Luckily, through side hustles and better job opportunities, I completely paid off my debt and saved at least $70,000, at the same time, in just 2.5 years. I did that even when I was the only one making a living for my wife and my daughter.
These struggles or failures helped me become more responsible. I didn’t want to burden my family. These struggles also taught me to be the best I could be when it comes to managing our personal finance. I have known myself as a frugal person. But these events helped me become 10x even more frugal. I learned how to distinguish with certainty the needs from the wants.
When you are deep into debt and it seems there’s no light at the end of tunnel, remember that there will always be one. Sit down and reassess your financial situation. Understand your needs and wants, where you can cut some expenses out or down, and where you can make sacrifices so you can have a better financial situation in the future.
4. Success in dealing with other problems
Before I experienced these failures, I used to worry about a lot of things that came my way. From getting assignments done at work to figuring what my next meal was, being worried was part of my core existence.
What I learned from these failures is that I can do anything as long as I put my heart, soul, and mind into the challenges I face. Now, I consider problems not as setbacks or headaches but as opportunities to improve myself, to learn something new, and become a better person in the process.
Some people have a great way of making you feel like you’re worthless or you can’t solve your own problems. If I face new, difficult problems, the old ‘me’ would be deterred to even start solving them because of the fear of failure. I would just take what these people say without even thinking. But the new ‘me’ would gladly say “That’s fine. I’ll try it anyways”.
It is better to try and not succeed than not try at all and always think what would happen if you did try. For me, as long as nobody is harmed, I would try to deal and solve the problems. At least, even if I fail, I know I will learn something important that I can use for other situations.
5. Success in gaining new knowledge
One of the key takeaways from losing a business is gaining business knowledge, which I can leverage on my future business endeavors. I aspire to create another business in the future. These failures allowed me to learn both my personal and business mistakes. I will use the lessons I learned to make better business decisions.
Some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time have something in common, that is, some of them experience rejections or failures prior to making a successful business. I’m talking about Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Colonel Sanders of KFC, Henry Ford, just to name a few. I may never become them or achieve what they (have) achieved but what I’m saying is that I will bounce back and be better at creating a business.
Just because you failed on something doesn’t mean you won’t succeed if you try again. Failures have their ways of helping you become knowledgeable. They allow you to gain insights that may not be possible if you just continue on achieving successes without failing in some sense. Learning and gaining knowledge resulting from failures are a powerful tool to help you succeed in whatever endeavors you have in life.
Failure is part of our lives. Whether you use it for your advantage or not is all up to you. It can be your best friend or your worst foe. For me, I used it to better myself. As a result, I have become successful on things I treasure the most and need to do in my life.
I have become a better person financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I may not fully quantify the benefits of my failures but one thing is for sure, that is, I gained more benefits than what I lost as a result of failing.
I’m not saying that you should fail just to learn. What I am saying is that if you do fail, make the most out of it and take advantage of all the lessons you can get out from it.
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