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4 Things I Have Learned from My Failures

While I’ve had many successes in this life, I have had many failures, and I have never forgotten the lessons learned.

I remember the first F I ever got. It was a 6th-grade Spanish test. I had never seen that letter written so boldly on anything with my name attached. I learned two important things that day that I’ve never forgotten: One, I could sometimes fake smart in English, but when it came to something completely foreign, there was no hiding from my ignorance; and two, if I was going to learn a new and uncomfortable skill, I had to actually study and keep up. Unfortunately I didn't have an opportunity to apply those lessons right away—my Spanish teacher was fired soon after for lying about his credentials on his resumé. Lesson number three—if you lie, you will eventually get caught.

When it comes to owning a business, or setting out on any kind of venture, failure is an inevitable part of the adventure. Failure is how some of the most important lessons are learned. And unless someone dies, there is always another chance to do it better the next time.

Here are four important things I have learned from past failures:

1. Ego is the greatest obstacle to happiness and success. I have made so many bad decisions because I was too afraid to say no to something, too afraid to ask for help, or too afraid to admit when I was wrong. And worst of all, instead of asking myself whether a decision was actually good for me, I made decisions to prove something to someone else. One example of many: when a business partnership fell apart, I wanted to show him and everyone else that I could do it all again. I opened another salon right away that put me in an even worse situation. And even worse than that, I brought several people I cared about along with me. Now, before making big decisions, I ask myself, am I doing this because it's good for me or am I doing it out of ego?

2. You gotta take care of you first. If your job is to make other people happy, you gotta be happy. For example, I know exactly how many hours in a week that I love my job, and in frank honesty, I know how many more hours it will take me to hate it. I have created a schedule and a clientele that works for me. My job as a hairdresser can be energizing, uplifting, and fulfilling, but it can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. And no one wants a grumpy hairdresser.

Side note: no one wants a sweaty hairdresser either, so dear clients, let the driver dictate the temperature of the car.

3. You gotta get paid. I have done way too much work for a discount for for free in the past. You can discount yourself out of business. People don’t respect discounts and they don’t care about coupons. And if they do, is that the clientele you want to have? You can build any business you want with the kind of clients you want. Find the ones that want to see you succeed. Hint: most of them do. Don’t sell yourself short. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. It is a precious, finite resource, so be wary of who you rent it to.

Side note: when someone wants your help and they tell you that working with them will be good exposure for you, tell them that people sometimes die of exposure.

4. You gotta have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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