Failure is Always an Option

A little over nine months ago, I was driving down the Garden State Parkway with a van full of supplies, plywood, power tools and excitement.  Brooke and I were about to start our newest adventure and we were filled with excitement at the possibilities this new endeavor might bring.  We started the month of April with 19 days of hard work.  We planned, built and filled an entire walk in love. store in 19 days!  We knew the season would start slow, so we weren’t going to let low sales figures disappoint us for several weeks.  Local shop owners told us that it picked up around Memorial Day, slowed down for a few weeks and then really picked up at the end of June, leading into the 4th of July.  So, I waited for Labor Day to come.  Labor Day came and sales went up a little, then back down again.  Then the end of June came and we started to get worried.  Sales were still very low.  Both our Lancaster and Online Store were beating Stone Harbor on a daily basis during what we heard was “the busy season”.  Brooke and I started having conversations about what we would do, what this meant and how we would respond.  To be honest, there were times when walk in love. seemed to be coming to an end mentally.  I remember thinking that if I couldn’t get a second store off the ground then what was I going to do in the future?  How would growth come?  Was this the beginning of the end?  Could I recover from the money I saw us losing?

The 4th of July came and went and nothing spectacular happened.  We were still doing better in Lancaster and Online.  We had conversations about trying Stone Harbor for another year and just going at it even harder.  We started really, really talking about the future and what it looked like.  What did walk in love. look like in 1, 2 or 10 years down the road.  We started talking about things we loved and things we were good at. At almost all at once, a shift took place that forever changed the future of our business.  It’s a shift that could have never taken place before Stone Harbor because we had never failed like Stone Harbor.  Failure has become the catalyst for great change in our company that we so dearly love and care for!  Within a month of this shift, we launched a new website and a collection that has been our best ever!  Our goal was to have our Online store be the most successful branch of walk in love. and last week it was the closest it has ever been.

I can really get down on myself for failure.  It is the number one thing I fear.  I fear that if I fail at something people will laugh at me.  All I could see during those first few months of the Stone Harbor store suffering was myself, my failure and what that meant to me.  It was like I staring at a single drop of water right in front of me and failing to see the entire ocean behind it.  An ocean that is filled with possibilities and adventure.  Yes, it will probably have a few failures mixed in but without those failures there is no room for growth to take place.  There is a popular phrase that we hear in movies and speeches – “Failure is not an option.”  But, to be honest, that is a bunch of crap.  Failure is always an option.  Failure is real and it is always there.  Failure being a very real option gives us the drive and passion not to end up there.  Failure being an option is what makes the tough decisions really mean something.

I use to hide from failure.  I would run away from it and just play it safe.  Playing it safe will land you a mediocre life and purpose.

The past two days I was in the Stone Harbor store packing it all up for good.  It is closed.  It simply wasn’t successful enough to keep going.  It was a failure, but without it we wouldn’t have a new website, new collection and something so new and exciting on the horizon that wish I could tell you about right now, but I have to wait!  Trust me, it’s really awesome.

Failure will always be met with criticism of others from the sideline and you have to push that aside and look at the lessons it taught you and the growth it provided.  Failure will always lead to growth if you’ll allow it. If you can look past the drop of water and see the ocean for what it can be.

In closing I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Teddy Roosevelt:

Thanks,

T.J.


1 comment

  • Mrs Rohrer

    TJ,

    After I graduated college (16 years ago), I worked at the local YMCA as the youth sports director – and part of that job was teaching junior high and high school Physical Education for a small Christian school that didn’t have a gymnasium. I would pull up in the YMCA’s maroon 15 passenger van, pick up students and bring them back to the Y, or even some days the college track between the school and the Y and I would teach this group of students.

    One student stood out to me. He was, as a first year teacher, what I felt was a ‘handful.’ He questioned everything I did and pushed me to be the best teacher I could be.

    I never forgot about him, especially when I learned he married a girl that went to my alma mater. And I followed their story, because one of his wife’s high school coaches was someone I went to school with. And I heard about their photography business, and then their tshirts.

    As I sit here, wearing one of my many Walk In Love. shirts, I am in awe of your success and the man you have become. The spirit and the desire. You have not failed. God has brought you to something greater.

    Little did you know, as your teacher, that I was a pretty new Christian – but each of you in junior high and high school, pushed me to be a better person and to really question why I do what I do. For me, or for Christ?

    As I am now a mom of 3 children, I am thankful for the opportunity to have taught such an awesome group of students, even if they did push me some days – they made me love what I do. And I marvel as I see such perseverance in you.

    Wishing you God’s continued blessings and successes – in whichever direction He may lead you.

    Blessings,
    Mrs Rohrer

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