I am getting ready to take another big risk in my business and it has me thinking a lot about success and…that F word: Failure.
Failure is such a negative word that a lot of motivational types tell us we should not even use it. I admit it makes me buckle at the knees sometimes, but I prefer to drag the word out where I can see it rather than let it hide in the shadows. Also, I have come to realize that success and failure can often show up disguised as something else.
The biggest business risk I ever took was back in 1999. It ended in failure, yet paved the way to everything I currently feel good about in my career. Here’s how it all came about.
I was, at least at that time, a very ordinary family law attorney doing very ordinary things, but I was starting to get this idea that I would feel better about my work if I started thinking in extraordinary ways. I was not alone in that thinking as many new ideas like mediation and Collaborative Law were starting to take shape, thanks to many extraordinary people.
My idea was to try to bring these ideas together. It was nice for people to finally have choices but the actual choice that people made, (i.e. whether to litigate, mediate, or collaborate) pretty much depended on which law office or website you happened to stumbled upon first. Most lawyers pretty much sold their product and most clients bought the first product offered to them.
I thought it would be a great idea if there was one place that people could go to learn about all of the choices at one time. In order to make that happen, I started a business called DivorceChoice.com which created a website explaining all of the choices. The business was initially supported by approximately 200 lawyers who gave me $300 each year to keep it all going. Eventually, Divorce Choice failed as a business and . . . . yet, created a success for me that I could not have imagined.
It failed as a business because, as it turns out, I really don’t want to manage a website that collects money from lawyers every year. In the end, people would want it to be a referral service and there were plenty of those around. So, after three years, I closed DivorceChoice.com as a business.
But (and this is the cool part), when I started DivorceChoice.com, I hired a really smart marketing person who encouraged me to assemble a “dream team” of advisors to help me with the business. I took her advice and assembled a list of my heroes throughout the community; many of whom I did not even know personally at that time. With great trepidation, I invited this Dream Team of 12 people to join in this idea, thinking they would all say no. To my delight and surprise, they all liked the idea and agreed to be on my team. As a result, over those three years I got to know many of these extraordinary people very well and they give me the inspiration and network to become an international leader in the world of helping people choice divorce options. Today, as a result of these people, I have the practice of my dreams . . . almost.
There has been one part of the dream that never quite happened. While new and better ways of resolving divorce issues have evolved during the past 15 years, people are still, for the most part, do not have a central resource where they can turn to learn about all of these options. There is still a need for a credible place to go to learn about all of the options; maybe not just a website this time; but an actual service with real human beings.
So, during the next twelve months I have decided to try to make that happen. I don’t know just how yet. I’ve hired that same marketing person I hired 15 years ago and she is going to help me figure it out. I am also hoping that she will help inspire me to achieve success; and help me accept the risk of failure and, most importantly, will remind me that I may not recognize either of those imposters when they show up at the door.