When things don't go your way

09-22-2009 4:09 PM

I saw a great quote on Twitter yesterday.  Unfortunately, an author wasn't cited, so I don't know who to attribute it to, but it really got me to thinking about what happens to us when things don't go our way.

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted"

If that is true, which I believe it is, then I know without a doubt that Mary Kay Ash would have said that she had lots of "experience"!  For example, when she was a salesperson herself (before founding our company), she had set her sights on winning a beautiful handbag that she had seen a previous sales leader earn.  She set that as her goal, and worked hard all year long to earn one for herself.  She achieved the level of sales required, but she didn't get what she wanted.  Instead, she was rewarded with a flounder light (evidently it's something you use to attract fish when you're trying to catch them).  From that experience, she decided that if she ever got the chance to award prizes to other sales women, they would be the kind of Cinderella prizes that women really wanted, like that original handbag that she wanted.  And that is exactly what she did, and we still do today.

I often Heard Mary Kay say that "If we ever decide to compare knees, you're going to find that I have more scars than anyone in the room.  That's because I have fallen down and gotten up so many times in my life."  Yes, Mary Kay Ash was very familiar with experience.  One of her most famous and oft-repeated and re-Tweeted anecdotes is "We fail forward to success," most assuredly derived from all those instances when things did not go her way.  Even with all the "failure" she experienced, Mary Kay went on to accomplish what no other woman in business has been able to match.   Some of this success can surely be attributed to her hard work and willingness to make the sacrifices she needed to, but it also came from "knowing how to lose".

I can think of so many times when things didn't go the way that I wished for them to, or the way that I imagined them to, and I'm certain there were times when I was a really sore loser.  But looking back on those times now, I know I'm stronger, wiser and more helpful to others who need advice and coaching than I would be had it not been for the experience, and I'm thankful to have had a role model in Mary Kay.  I guess the real lesson I've learned is that my way may not be the best way after all, and I've learned to appreciate those times when things don't go my way, because I know that I'm going to grow as a result of the "experience."