Accepting failure — and knowing when to ask for help — can help you find success when striking out on your own.
by Juliet Lam Kuehnle
What characteristics come to mind when thinking of entrepreneurs, or people with entrepreneurial attitudes? I asked around and got the following answers: creative, confident, clear on vision, motivated, someone who is able to make a million decisions, someone who isn’t afraid to take risks — and someone who is prepared for sleepless nights. According to entrepreneur.com, the must-have traits for successful entrepreneurs are: problem-solving skills, impeccable communication skills, determination to excel, willingness to take calculated risks, desire to continuously learn, strong leadership skills, passion and ambition, open-mindedness, work-life balance, and the ability to be a team player.
So are certain people just born with these traits? What if we feel we don’t possess some of these characteristics? Does that mean we’re destined to just follow a path that’s been laid out for us? I don’t think so. I believe we all have an entrepreneurial spirit inside of us, and it is often stifled or we find more comfort in the predictable and familiar. This can happen for a multitude of reasons that can include inherent temperaments, belief systems we may have adopted about our own abilities, societal messaging we have internalized, values we prioritize and … fear.
I asked Marisa Wheeling Ciesluk, a local leadership and executive coach, to weigh in. “One of the reasons we shy away from embracing an entrepreneurial endeavor is the fear of failure. Inherent in entrepreneurship is risk, and we live in a world where we avoid risks because failure is perceived as negative or unacceptable. Yet, when we detach from the outcome and reframe ‘failure’ as simply data that enables us to make a more informed decision next time, we can engage in purposeful risk-taking and spark possibilities.”
As with most things, if we want to move forward, grow, improve resilience and confidence, and show up in this life, we need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zones. We need to find permission within ourselves to fail and find the opportunity in doing just that. And it does not mean doing it all by ourselves. Asking for help can feel incredibly vulnerable and to many can feel like weakness. This is something we simply need to unlearn. There’s nothing more brave than acknowledging and owning one’s struggle, friction, disconnect, confusion or curiosity and using the resources available for support. What might you do differently or how might you show up differently if you were able to embrace more of an entrepreneurial spirit? The world is your oyster.
Juliet spoke with Tiffany Donovan Marino, owner of Confetti Castle, a balloon-installation business. Below are excerpts from their interview, lightly edited.
How did you end up becoming a balloon queen when you’d never done anything in that arena before?
I started my own thing because I couldn’t really figure out what I wanted to do next. I didn’t really have a plan, but I was like, you know, I think I can make anything happen. So I did, and I just taught myself.
You seem to be a make-it-happen kind of person.
I’ve been kind of forced into situations like that. I did not have a great childhood growing up whatsoever. I grew up a certain way, and I am not going to let that be what directs my life. So I just said, I want to prove those things wrong. I think that’s a lot of where my mentality, my work ethic, all those things come from. Because growing up, I had a mother who said I wasn’t good enough, so every time I do something to improve my life or for myself, I tell myself that I’m constantly proving that wrong.
It also sounds like your success and autonomy has been a protective mechanism – since you couldn’t always count on others, you needed to know that you’ll be OK on your own.
For sure, 100%. I have to know that I’m OK by myself.
I can tell you do a good job of observing emotions and experiences without getting so attached to them.
Yes, I try to. I’m very good with openly talking about my issues. I can say: I have a lot of people depending on me, and it’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders right now and I need help. You can’t always be the person who’s helping everybody else. You have to also be vulnerable to let people help you. SP
Juliet Kuehnle is the owner and a therapist at Sun Counseling and Wellness. The full interview of Kuehnle’s “Who You Callin’ Crazy?!” interview featuring Tiffany Marino can be found on Instagram @yepigototherapy.