Damien Grant: Fail, and find happiness
OPINION: I was a wealthy man when I was married. The photos show the strutting confidence of a man on top of the world. Oh. And the bride was nice too.
It didn't last. My wealth, I mean. The marriage has stood up remarkably well. Within six months of my prancing down the aisle like a peacock my business began to unwind and within a year I was reduced to doing the books at a mate's automotive workshop.
It's a daunting experience, to fail. Success and financial security insulates you from the world. Losing that, being cast back among hoi polloi, was a shock but the real crisis wasn't financial. Behind every success is a niggle of doubt; is the good fortune the result of luck or was it truly earned?
If things unravel, as it did for me, the universe seems to be providing an answer. I was promptly ejected from corporate society like the imposter I'd always suspected I was and sent back into the dank underworld where I felt more at home.
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If the initial business success was based on luck and a purloined customer list, what were the odds of a new business getting off the ground? Would I be better to get a taxi licence or, worse, try my hand at real estate?
It is my belief, based on nothing but observation and personal experience, that men identify with our occupations. We equate success in our career with being a successful person. When we fail professionally we feel that we have failed as a person. It's why stories of men taking a final step into oblivion after a professional disaster are depressingly common.
In my experience, fear of failure is worse than failure itself. The process of seeing years of hard work destroyed can be incomprehensibly difficult, but the aftermath isn't. I'm a liquidator now, and I often see men on either side of the division between fake success and real failure and they are always happier afterwards.
Failure need not define a person. Business is a learned skill. No one hits a six on their first time out to bat. For myself, I clawed back from the dank underworld; surrounded by car parts, grease and unpaid Repco bills, an insolvency practice was born and thanks to some work and a lot of luck, a decade later it's going strong.
Luck, I now appreciate, is a key feature in anyone's success and at some point you can just accept that fact, drop the hubris, and enjoy the ride.