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If you want to be successful faster, you must double your rate of failure. Success lies on the far side of failure.
— Thomas J. Watson

Two weeks ago an aunt came from the capital. In conversation, she asked, “How’s your business?” I gave her an affirmative answer, trying not to rouse any more concerns than was necessary. You see, the world around us appears to be literally collapsing, financially. Greece, Jordan, Spain and even USA are deep in ruts of debt. The Arab spring of uprisings in the Middle East are spreading like wildfire, plus other woes.

I searched my heart and asked if my business is doing alright. Given the present world-wide economic turmoils, I reassured myself in the affirmative. Our books are healthy. That’s comforting, to say at the least.

© BBC © Reuters

So why did I ponder this thought today about the business my wife and I own? Rainy days do funny things to people. The damp weather makes one think, is the entire economy so bad? You see, Bank of America is laying off 30,000 workers (ABC News 13 Sept 2011), HSBC is also shedding up to 30,000, by 2013 (CNN Money, 2 August 2011) , so you might be forgiven if you asked whether Goldman Sachs did actually start this trend. On the local front, I read from the local dailies and heard credible rumours that car sale during the period leading up to Aidil Fitri celebration in Brunei had been a major toothache, in spite of aggressive advertising and bundled discounts.

This morning, under an overcast sky, I shared with my wife, Karen, this piece of wisdom, quoting Thomas J. Watson, “If you want to be successful faster, you must double your rate of failure. Success lies on the far side of failure.”

On hearing this, she stared blank back at me. What was I saying? Double the rate of failures? Was I nuts? I told her, to succeed we mustn’t be afraid to move forward, adapt to changing business trends, and take calculated risks. I stressed calculated risks because I reasoned with her, “failure is not an option”. I think she got more confused and confounded the more I babbled. … I calmly explained, over coffee, we need to conduct our business without fear. At the same time, we need to monitor our bottom line on a day-to-day basis and try in our managerial manoeuvers to avoid pitfalls — we take risks not to fail, but to succeed.

If we stay put,  we become fossilized. The business dies.

This artist's concept shows NASA's giant rocket, the Space Launch System soaring of a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket is NASA's new booster for deep space missions to an asteroid and ultimately Mars.

© NASA Artist's concept of NASA's new deep space rocket

If we stay put, hanging on to our status quo, we become fossilized and the business dies. I capitalized on yesterday’s news (14 September) that NASA just unveiled a new rocket for deep space exploration, on the heels of retiring the last space shuttle, Atlantis in June 2011, after 30 years of space shuttle projects, missions and expeditions. I went on to explain that the accident of Apollo 13 and tragedy of space shuttle Challenger did not stop NASA from carrying out missions and advancement in space exploration. Failure was not an option. NASA moved forward to be better, safer and bigger.


“Boldness has Genius,Power and Magic in it” (Goethe)

In the same grain of determination and persistence, I pepped up my wife with renewed vigour that we should build “new rockets” and take the leap forward, albeit one day at a time, one business plan at a time. After all, I conjoined my words quoting F.D. Roosevelt, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Then, I told Karen, that in every business, there are cycles of ups and downs. The revolving doors of profit making years are often spun with some patches of credit crunch periods. What’s most important is to remain focused, stay calm and be prepared to climb from peak to peak.

To this end, I shared with Karen a story from the epic movie I watched as a child with my sister, Erica, “Heidi” (1968 film). . . . Heidi was a success story to emulate, I concluded.

What’s most important is to remain focused, stay calm and be prepared to climb from peak to peak.