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I recently read Katherine Grainger’s Dreams Do Come True, and found so many nuggets that I really resonated with in it. I want to share and ponder one of those with you today.

I do, however, think that losing is a crucial part of development, and it is often through losing that we learn how to be better, stronger and tougher and find out what is important to us. Everyone I know who has achieved great things in their lives can also talk about failures or disappointments along the way and they agree that this, in part, is what has helped them to be great. Taking risks, daring to try, not being afraid to make mistakes, learning from setbacks have been some of the vital steps on the way to some of the world’s biggest inventions, discoveries, accomplishments and successes.

“Dreams do come true” by Katherine Grainger

In Entrepreneur Land, there is rightly a lot of emphasis placed on celebrating our wins. Of course we should – this week one thing I’m celebrating is getting a blog out every day. 🎉 It seems like the quickest way for you all to get to know me, so I made it a goal, and (once I hit publish on this one) I’ll be celebrating.

No matter how big or small your wins, definitely celebrate them: it helps you keep going, and trains you to adopt a positive mindset. I keep a list and add to it through the week.

But sometimes we fail. And I think we need to normalise that within ourselves and among each other, to make it easier to handle when it inevitably happens. I think we need to realise that it’s just part of the process, and it means that in the end we figure out how to provide a better product or service to our clients and customers.

Me feeding the ducks in Buxton in 2010. A favourite pastime of ours, we keep duck food in the car boot in case the opportunity arises.

I went through a period of taking lots and lots of photos. I’d just arrived here in England, and everything was new and exciting to me. Actually having a digital camera instead of a film camera also helped with this quite a lot. I started off wanting to record everything. My husband (then boyfriend) was the same, and between us we’d easily take 300 photos on a day out to a nearby town. A trip we take for granted now, but back then was exciting. Even though he’s lived here in Glossop all his life, I dragged him out to many towns across Derbyshire that he’d simply never been to before, so it was new to him, too.

Over time, what I realised was that through this process of taking so very many photos, and then looking through them, I learned better how to frame shot, what angles work, etc. I’m not a professional photographer, and never will have that level of knowledge on these things (I simply don’t have the patience; I’ve tried). But my snapshots are much better these days than they were before then.

Out of those 300 photos we’d take on a day out, I might have only shared 10 or 20 with friends and family. That’s a really high failure rate! 😱

But by failing again and again and again (and some of those shots were quite, quite terrible), and being unafraid, I learned, grew, and improved. I’m grateful for that experience.

In business, I didn’t meet my goal of two new clients in June. But I’ve spent some time pondering it, and made some changes and plans, so hopefully I’ll have more success soon.

With my blogs, my videos, and other content, I’m well aware that it’s a learning process, and some will hit the mark, some will be quite terrible, and most will be middling. With sales and networking calls, I also realise that not every one will be fantastic, or go to plan. Doorbells and telephones will ring, motorbikes will buzz past, there will be connection issues, and we will each have off days. It’s life.

The greenhouse at Buxton Pavilion was such a lovely place, and I’m glad we got a chance to see it. This is also from 2010.

The key is to realise that failure is indeed a necessary part of growth, and to know that you’ll need to push through those feelings of disappointment, embrace them for the learning opportunity they are, and keep going.

Keep trying.

Remember your why, and push through.

Your why needs to be something easily brought to top of mind. Put it up on post-it notes all around your house and work space. Keep it visible until you know it and can bring it to mind anytime. Or just keep it visible for as long as it’s true, and update it when it changes.

My why is freedom and choices, for you and for me. I want to help as many of you as I can to stay self-employed, or become self-employed. I want you to have the choice, and the freedom that comes with choices. I don’t want you to take or keep a job you hate because you can’t see another way, because you can’t work out how to build a profitable business doing what you love. Even if you like the job, it may not have hours flexible around your needs for child care, elder care, or other needs. For me, I want to earn enough to give my husband and I choices that we have been sorely lacking for some years.

So when I need to do something new, that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and I risk failure, I remind myself of my why, take a deep breath, and push Go Live. When I fail, I remember my why, and keep trying. I remember all the lousy photos I took in 2008, 2009, 2010, and beyond, and how long it took me to start taking reliably decent snapshots. I remind myself that all of life is a practice, and that we just need to keep doing it. If we were perfect out of the gate, we’d never have any room left for growth – and doesn’t that sound dreadful.

What is your why? What have some of your failures been?