Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gift of "Failure"

In my last post, I wrote about the gift of struggle.

This post, I want to write about another gift, this one disguised as “failure”.

I recently read a remarkable little book, called "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah", and one of the great quotes in it says: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in it’s hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts…”

As expected, we had to close our shop. Aside from the work involved in packing up and moving out, and the natural sense of disappointment that our plans didn’t work out…there was the added insult of having to bow and scrape to the landlord, in order to break our contract early. 

He said some rather complimentary things, like: “You’re from Oz. I thought you knew what you were doing!” (Ouch…)

After that particular meeting, I hid in the bathroom and sobbed.

So, we packed up and brought our stuff home, with our figurative tails between our legs. If ever you wanted an example of “failure”, then here it was!

So, I spent a few glorious days doing next to nothing, but being a Capricornian, "next to nothing" soon becomes excruciatingly painful, and I had to dream up some new projects to work on. 

Now, here is where it starts to get interesting. Here is where the mask of “failure” begins to slip and it’s gifts are revealed.

Without the time and energy involved in being away from home every day, and the stress of worrying over how to pay the rent each month…I discovered a new lease of creativity and energy. 

Today, I sat down and wrote a list of all the positive results that came about because of  this particular “failure”.

1. I got my first e-book published.

While I was running the shop, I started writing an e-book, about how I cured myself of hyperhidrosis - which is really a nice, polite name for that unfortunate condition where you sweat like a stuck pig on a hot afternoon....even when you are not a stuck pig....and it's not a hot afternoon. 

Basically you sweat profusely, whether you're cold or hot or anywhere in-between. Even some of my closest friends didn't realise that I suffered from this problem. I just learnt to hide the damp patches under my arms, by wearing dark-coloured clothing.

I spent more than 4 months writing and researching and editing and formatting and perfecting and......then it all came to a crashing halt, because I couldn't figure out where or how to publish it.

But since I'm now at home with a brand-new internet connection, I figured there were no more excuses, and so I got serious about getting my e-book out to the world.

I am super excited to announce that, as of today, my e-book is listed on Amazon. You can check it out right here. 

I'm pretty proud of this work, because in all my years of searching for information on how to solve this problem, I could not find one single product or piece of advice that dealt with the CAUSE of the problem. It was all about how to hide the problem with deodorants or suppress the problem by cutting out your sweat glands or injecting botox into your armpits.

So, my book is quite a revolutionary piece of work, and although I hope to earn some income from it, I hope more that people will be helped by it.

2.) I started writing what may be Tonga's first ever cookbook.

Tonga is facing some really big health challenges right now. The vast majority of Tongans are overweight. Non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are starting to explode, and placing a huge burden on an already ill-equipped health system.

As far as I can see, the number one reason for this is diet. The average Tongan eats a lot of meat and a lot of starches and simple carbohydrates (like white bread). Apart from the starchy root vegetables like taro and yam, the average Tongan eats hardly any vegetables.

But I'm aiming to change all that! There were two reasons that inspired me to write a recipe book based on vegetables.

a. While I was running the shop, I began to meet more and more Tongans who expressed an interest in becoming vegetarian. They were either trying to stay vegetarian, or thinking about becoming vegetarian, but 100% of people agreed that it is very hard to be vegetarian in Tonga. The foundation of Tongan culture is the sharing of food. Unfortunately, all family meals, celebratory feasts and cafe meals seem to revolve around meat.

This is a terrible shame, because vegetables are now widely available, through the large market in town, or little roadside stalls out in the villages. And they're incredibly cheap, and often organic. For example, I can buy a large head of cabbage for $1 Tongan dollar (about 60c Australian), or a bagful of vine-ripened tomatoes for $3 (about $2 Australian). Meanwhile, meat is about $10 per kilo...

b.  Since becoming a vegetarian earlier this year, I've become really creative with my cooking, experimenting with different herbs and spices and ingredients. My meat-loving husband recently commented that my cooking now is the best he's ever tasted. My Tongan in-laws often hang around the kitchen, in hopes that they'll get some vegetarian leftovers.

This got me to thinking: If more Tongans knew how to cook vegetables in a way that is not only delicious and filling, but CHEAPER than the meat meals, then more people would start eating them.

I've been experimenting with recipes and taking photos, and I'm aiming to have it available for sale here in Tonga before Christmas this year, and published in both English and Tongan.

3. I'm still selling products, but my expenses are a tiny fraction of what they used to be.

Recently I held a stall at a night-market which promoted women in business. During those four hours I sold about a week's worth of products...and it only cost me $30 to hold the stall, rather than the $450 it was costing me each week, to rent a shopfront.

We've started to get a little trickle of orders via phone and email, and we plan to promote that more. We also plan to take our products to the big produce market in town one day per week, as suggested by one of our customers. 

4. I'm much more relaxed.

The stress of finding the $1270 rent money every month, and constantly trying to re-arrange my shelves so they looked less bare, was a burden that I'm glad to be rid of...

It also helped that some dear people offered to help us out financially, so that we could get our ute fixed, and overdue bills paid. They know who they are ;-)

5. I'm free to do what I choose

Having a shop meant that I met a lot of people, made some great connections and had a lot of lively and interesting discussions with lively, interesting people. That was my favourite part about running a shop.

But it also meant that I was stuck inside a room for 8 hours every day, and was unable to even go for a walk in the fresh air or go and sit under the trees. In the beginning, we agreed that my husband and I would share the job of looking after the shop, but somehow it ended up all me, as my husband found himself helping out family members and working on building projects.

I missed nature, and I'm making up for it now, by going for walks and heading to the beach with the kids.

6. I became a leader

I've spoken about my mentor before. She happens to be a New-York Times bestselling author. I met her on Twitter, and was so motivated and mind-blown by her tweets, that when I noticed her talking about mentees, I knew I just had to be part of the action!!
That was over a year ago, and her group of mentees has grown to over 150 people from all over the world. We set goals and dream big, and always she is supporting us, encouraging us, and speaking words of greatness over us.

We're currently embarking on a 60 Day Gratitude Feast/Negativity Fast. Each day, we are required to do a different task, designed to inspire us to hold onto that attitude of gratitude.

So anyway, recently, I had a brainwave that we should have our own site, that it was time for us mentees to step up to the plate and start taking some responsibility for the group, and that our bigger vision was for each one of us mentees to go out and mentor someone else.

In our group are all manner of visionaries and entrepreneurs - people who are already making their mark, and doing good things in their corner of the world, so I felt a little bit hesitant that I should be the one to take the initiative, but I emailed my mentor anyway...

She loved the idea, and asked me to set up a sample site. Which I did, and you can find it here.

It's still in it's baby stages, but amazingly, it's already getting quite a few visitors each day, although it's only new, and we haven't yet told anyone about it!! I just know this is going to be a tool that will reach more people and make a positive difference, encouraging people to fulfil their potential, and become all that they were created to be.

7. I'm at home with my children

Last, but not least, I now find myself in the enviable position of working from home. Every stay-at-home mother will agree that being with your children 24/7 is no piece of cake. There's tears and tantrums and fights and mess...

But there's also the most exquisite moments that would otherwise have been enjoyed (or perhaps overlooked) by someone else. There's cuddles, there's new words being learned, there's playing and laughing, there's happy memories being made of times spent together.


So, if this is "failure", then I welcome failure any day of the week.

I've come to realise that "failure" and setback and disappointment are not signals to quit. They're invitations to get creative,  look at things differently, become better.

Like my mentor tweeted recently: "Our environment is never against us. Every ocurrence, good or bad is the very condition needed for our unique, individual development."

So, wherever you are on your journey, if you feel like you're a "failure", dont. Keep your eyes peeled, because it's only a matter of time before that "failure" mask begins to slip and the gifts are revealed.

1 comment:

Bwendo said...

Awesome POst - cheers for being honest and accountable! There is so much you learn from being in business. We, too, had to close our warehouse during the gfc and we still operate on lower overheads. All is not lost - you have learned os much it is an even greater tragedy if you quit when you are so far along in your journey. We sell Gourmet Hampers Australia wide so here's to being survivors and resilience.