Tips for Entrepreneurs: Looking back

After all, isn’t success coming out of failure what the story of Hanukka is ultimately all about?

December 9, 2012 23:49
4 minute read.
sufganiyot, Hannukah donuts

sufganiyot, Hannukah donuts_300. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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The rabbi was having a day full of communal obligations.

This afternoon he had two Shiva houses to visit, homes where two community families were mourning the loss of a loved one who had passed on.

The Levi and Schwartz families were both bereaved after the passing of the elder Mr. Levi and the elder Mr. Schwartz.

First the rabbi went to visit the Levi family and pay his condolences.

“Rabbi!” the children wailed in unison. “It’s entirely our fault!” “What is your fault?,” the rabbi asked, puzzled.

“We are to blame for our father’s death!,” they tearfully explained. “We should have kept our father here, with us, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and a loving family. But no – we shipped him off to Florida and to a warmer climate.

And there, he was all alone! Had we kept him here among the doting descendants, who loved him so much, he’d still be alive!” To the Rabbi’s regret, he couldn’t find the right words to console them. And, after all, maybe they were right, and old Mr. Levi would still be among the living if he had stayed at home.

Wishing the traditional blessing of “May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion,” the Rabbi left the Levi house, and headed over to the Schwartz residence.

“Rabbi!,” the children wailed in unison. “It’s all our fault!” “What is your fault?,” the Rabbi asked, puzzled. He’d heard these words just an hour ago at the Levi’s, but what was it this time? “We are responsible for our father’s death!,” they tearfully explained.

“We kept Daddy here, with us, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and a loving family, thinking that it was good for him. Oy! What a mistake! Had we done what was right for him, we would have shipped him off to Florida and to a warmer climate. And there, he’d still be alive, with the climate and the sun keeping him fit and healthy – the cold weather here is a killer!” And suddenly, the rabbi understood.

In life, and in business, we are constantly presented with choices to make, with forks in the road, as it were. Nothing is ever as simple and as easy as it sounds, so when things get a bit tough, we tend to think, “I should have done the opposite.”

Marketers call it “buyer’s remorse.” A customer might think, “Had I only bought that other brand, I’d be better off!” You might think, “If I had only hired that other applicant for the job, things would be so much better.” Or, “If I had hired a different lawyer, I would have won that case for sure!” Rabbis, this one at least, call it “a waste of time and energy.”

Hindsight may be 20/20, but what many people don’t realize is that many times hindsight doesn’t exist – even if they think it does.

If you have term life insurance, then was it a mistake to pay for the past five years? After all you are still alive – so it was a waste of money! Or was it? We only know the results of the path we have taken, not the results of the path we didn’t take. It often seems that that “other path” – the one we think we should have taken – would have been obstacle-free, compared to the hardships of the path we took.

Many a human being has fallen into the self imposed torture of self-pity when they wail, “I should have done things differently!” And that is especially true when well-meaning folks say “I told you so, I told you that would happen!” Don’t listen to them. It’s pure negativity.

Nothing good comes out of this train of thought. It only leads to negative self-confidence and makes you afraid of moving forward (because you don’t want to be perceived as stupid, or make another mistake again, right?). In general all you do when you think these thoughts is create a downer atmosphere that is toxic to your self-development and your success.

Wherever you stand right now, don’t waste time or spend valuable energy focusing on the, “coulda, woulda and shoulda” regrets of your situation. Instead, focus on where you are right now.

You have amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in your chosen field about what works, and what doesn’t. You got there through your mistakes and failures.

As Steven Spielberg says: “failure is inevitable. Success is elusive.”

Your failures are not negatives – they are the keys to your success.

Wear them like badges of honor. It’s hard to do when you are in the middle of a bad situation, or even just after you move beyond it. But looking back from the future, those dark moments you’re experiencing now are what you end up using as benchmarks to see just how far you have come.

After all, isn’t success coming out of failure what the story of Hanukka is ultimately all about? Happy Hanukka, y’all!

Issamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi who has been published in more than 50 business publications.

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