A little over six 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:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.