One of the most important lessons that entrepreneurs can learn is that there is no straight line to success. The line dips and twists and turns, often doubling back in what we might call “failures” but what we should think of as valuable lessons. When entrepreneurs fail forward, they bring the value of that failure with them, and use the lessons to achieve growth.

I call this the “looping line of success.” If you continue to follow my 4-step process to personal and professional transformation (outlined in my blog here), your journey to success will loop around frequently as you explore and evolve your inner dynamics.

One company that failed forward with incredible success is Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC story is an object lesson in re-framing failure to discover new opportunities.

Recipe for Success

Harland Sanders – better known to fried chicken aficionados as Colonel Sanders – was the founder and brand ambassador of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Colonel was 65 years old and operating a single restaurant in North Corbin Kentucky when a new Interstate opened nearby and reduced customer traffic, forcing him to sell.

He was left with one asset – his mother’s fried chicken recipe. Harland Sanders decided to set out across the country and sell it. He hopped from one diner to the next, cooking the recipe for owners, and making enough for him to continue traveling and selling.

The Colonel was so determined that he slept in the back of his car and lived off of his meager savings and low monthly Social Security check. Yet it didn’t seem to be working – he hadn’t even made one sale. He needed to pivot and re-frame his failure to change his circumstances.

FAILING FORWARD IN 4 STEPS

Harland Sanders used his own version of the 4-step process to fail forward and become a world-known icon. If you’re unfamiliar with my 4-step process, here’s a quick summary:

  1. Identify Your Mindset, and Recognize the Pattern That Isn’t Working
  2. Set Intention, Not Expectation
  3. Create a Strategy, Take Action, Get Feedback
  4. Learn, Iterate Forward, Repeat

The Colonel first recognized the pattern of what wasn’t working. Frying the the chicken wasn’t enough of a differentiator in the eyes of his restaurant owner customers, so he switched to pressure frying. This process – along with the famous “secret blend” of 11 herbs and spices – imparted a unique and delicious flavor to the chicken, along with a speedier cook time.

Next, Colonel Sanders set an intention, not an expectation of what he wanted to do differently. He knew that one restaurant was a risky business model, having experienced a shutdown when a new interstate diverted his customer traffic. Creating a sustainable business stream with recurring revenue would be more likely with multiple franchised locations each paying $.04 for every chicken sold.

After that, Sanders created a strategy to break the pattern – he would take action by hitting the road to demonstrate the improved frying process himself. This allowed him to gain valuable feedback from restaurant owners and make necessary adjustments.

He learned from each new business owner and kept repeating his process. The Colonel was famously rejected 1,009 times before finally franchising for the first time in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1952.

CHICKEN-FRIED SUCCESS STORY

After 10 years, the company had grown to more than 600 franchised outlets, and he later sold it to investors for $2 million, which is over $15 million in today’s dollars. He became a salaried brand ambassador and KFC became the world’s 4th largest restaurant chain, with 20,000 locations across the globe.

Colonel Sanders is the paragon of failing forward and riding the looping line of success. He learned what every entrepreneur should learn – that every failure is a gift and an opportunity for growth. True learning comes from experiencing discomfort, but using the 4-step process will recharge your batteries so you can move forward and achieve your full business and personal potential.

Schedule a consultation today and let’s discover how to grow your business by following the looping line of success.

One of the toughest truths I’ve ever encountered is that transformation isn’t external – it comes from changes you make within yourself. I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

 

When I hit my bottom, my business was $600,000 in debt and 60 days away from running out of cash completely. I was devastated, so I took a full 30 minutes to feel sorry for myself. 

 

With that out of the way, I began the process of exploring my inner dynamics – and eliminating my inner “itty-bitty shitty committee” – so that I could make the changes necessary to move past my challenges and thrive. I’m proud of the way I’ve bounced back and achieved some of my most audacious goals, including making the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies a record 6 times.

 

My personal and professional transformation is the product of a 4-step process – based on the foundation of The Active Learning Cycle – that I’ve laid out below. Follow these steps to engage with your inner dynamics & get unstuck, unlock your full potential, and achieve the outcomes you desire.

1. Identify Your Mindset, And Recognize The Pattern That Isn’t Working

Mindset comes from the stories we tell ourselves about what’s going on in our lives. Sometimes we have to recognize that those stories are not serving us well. The key is to understand the difference between a Growth Mindset, and Fixed mindset, and embrace an ATV outlook (Authentic, Transparent, and Vulnerable).

 

A Fixed Mindset is one threatened with fear, stress, and self-doubt. Remember my low moment, when I was over half a million dollars in debt and months away from having to shutter my business? I was engaging in reactivity, and my unconscious, self-protective behavior and imposter syndrome limited my options.

 

On the other hand, a Growth Mindset requires you to be Authentic, Transparent, and Vulnerable, and rewards you with growth. Shifting to creativity meant focusing on satisfaction, not happiness. Happiness is a short-lived spike of dopamine; satisfaction is a reflection on the highs and lows of your personal journey.

 

The 4-step process identifies and addresses the gap between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. Pivoting from reactivity into creativity is the key shift needed to move from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset.

2. Set Intention, Not Expectation

Expectations place the definition of success on the outcome, which is not always in our control. Intentions, on the other hand, are ours to define. 

 

Failure may be inevitable when setting high expectations, but being less results-oriented allows us to focus on the individual steps in the journey to success – one at a time. 

 

Defining success by your ability to follow through on your intentions, gives you the ability to focus on the present by freeing yourself from the outcome. This allows you to adapt quickly and effectively and learn along the way by staying Massively Curious.

3. Create a Strategy, Take Action, Get Feedback

When I was $600,000 in debt, I first identified my mindset (“I can no longer do this alone. I need to push aside my pride & ego; I need to get help. I better hire a business coach.”) Next, I set my intention to get out of debt. I just didn’t know how.

With my intention in place, I created a strategy to reach out to companies that would still hire people from my staffing firm during a recession. I asked each of them this question: “If you could only hire one person when you come out of the recession, who would it be?”

That was my action. My feedback was their response. This pattern armed me with the information I would need later to get my business out of debt and on the fast track to success.

Action requires strategy. There’s no moving forward in the E-4 process without receiving feedback, which gives you the critical information needed to adapt your strategy.

4. Learn, Iterate Forward, and Repeat

You’ve identified your mindset. You’ve chosen to set an intention, and not an expectation. You’ve strategized, taken action, and received feedback. The next thing you need to do is learn.

 

True learning comes from experiencing discomfort. You need to receive the feedback from step 3 and use it to inform the next cycle.

 

That doesn’t mean you should trust every negative thought you have about yourself or your business. There is an itty-bitty shitty committee in your head that can close you off from possibility and opportunity. It’s difficult to learn the difference between that voice and the quieter voice that works to improve you through discomfort, but the process is ultimately rewarding.

 

Once you have integrated feedback, iterating forward and repeating takes you back to the first step in the cycle. The E-4 Process is infinitely repeatable and continues to pay dividends if you engage with it honestly and from a place of Massive Accountability.

 

Schedule a consultation with Extraordinary Advisors today and we can help you make a life, not just a living, by revealing the authentic leader within you.

 

As entrepreneurs, we’re used to criticism. It’s impossible to succeed without weathering bad press or disparagement from any number of sources. Often, though, our biggest critics aren’t the people around us, but the voices that live in our heads telling us that we’re not good enough.

I call them “The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee.” These voices are loud and insistent, sowing self-doubt and using our own reasoning against us. Lately, these voices have grown into a powerful chorus as COVID-19 forces many of us to reimagine our businesses and pivot to a new path.

NEGATIVE CHATTER DOESN’T MATTER

The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee makes you question your life and career, and makes you feel like a fraud. Everyone suffers from some sort of negative chatter in their head – we all hear The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee telling us the worst things we believe about ourselves. You are not alone.

Depending on your progress as an extraordinary entrepreneur, the voices in your head are constantly advancing or retreating. That’s the bad news – the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee will always be a factor, especially if you continue to pursue excellence as the founder of your own business.

But don’t despair! The good news is that you have the power to silence your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee, and take the necessary steps to begin living life by your own design.

CHANGE YOUR MIND-SET

Recognize first that you are not perfect. In fact, nobody is. When you understand this, it becomes much easier to identify the inner voices that aren’t helping you. Your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee demands perfection – that’s why it can never be satisfied.

Next, transformation of any kind requires you to demand Massive Accountability of yourself. That means approaching your discomfort with curiosity and gratitude, and taking honest stock of your strengths and limitations.

Start the process of Massive Accountability by learning to be Authentic, Transparent, and Vulnerable with yourself and the people you interact with. Embracing ATV will reward you personally and professionally, and enable you to become unstuck.

Finally, be conscious of the steps you’re taking. Make sure you’re not operating from a Reactive Mind-set – one that’s created by unconscious fear and stress. A Creative Mindset comes from honest reflection on your personal journey.

My strategy for banishing your Itty Bitty Shitty Committee comes from following the E-4 Process to achieve your full business and personal potential.

The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee can threaten you at every stage of your personal journey. You should only listen to what it’s saying so you can figure out where your Imposter Syndrome is coming from.

Challenge the beliefs that are limiting you, whether that’s what you think you know, or what you think other people know about you.

And really – stop shitting on yourself! I will help you uncover your purpose, passion, and inner motivation so you can lead yourself through any obstacle that comes your way. Schedule a consultation today and learn to grow your business by revealing the authentic leader within.

ATV

It’s difficult to imagine embracing failure because everything we know and are taught is to mitigate risk. However, every successful entrepreneur has endured some sort of failure on their path to success. face failures head-on by utilizing a model I call ATV – Authentic, Transparent, and Vulnerable. By implementing each of these steps into your life, you will learn how to more effectively embrace failure on your entrepreneurial journey.