Remember Confucius Next Time you Make Mistakes in Business

I remember reading RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, President Richard Nixon’s autobiography, some years ago. Like all political histories, I found it fascinating. One of the most interesting periods in his life was after the 1960 Presidential election when, after losing to John F. Kennedy, he was famously reported to have said to the press, “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.”

He was defeated. Even worse he was beaten.

This has happened to all of us hasn’t it?  It certainly has to me.  The question which we all ultimately have to answer after a crushing failure is “Now what”? And the question isn’t about what we will do next—in terms of a job, activity, marriage, etc.—but what will we do next. Will we allow ourselves to be crushed? Or will we get back up and try again?

Confucius, the Chinese teacher who lived in the 6th century B.C. said, “Our greatest glory in not in never failing but in rising every time we fail.” I think he is right.

In business, in the insurance agency business, we make mistakes. Sometimes, we make really big ones. Sometimes these mistakes nearly kill us. We hire the wrong people. We invest in marketing campaigns that don’t work. We lose our biggest insurance carrier and lots of customers with it. We trust someone and they betray us. We get sued for E&O—and we lose. I’m sure you have other examples from your own experience. The point is we all are defeated as we go through our business lives at one time or another.

Do we quit?  Do we never hire again?  Do we refuse to trust? Do we never try again?  Many do.

But! Those who are successful in life and in business know that Confucius was right. They pick themselves up and start again. 

Nixon suffered a crushing and humiliating loss of his life’s ambition in 1960.  Worse, he felt that it had been stolen from him. Perhaps it was. Understandably he was depressed when he made his statement to the press.  Then he went home to California, reentered the practice of law and swore to never run for public office again. Beaten.

He did recover though.  And, as you know, went on to win two presidential races and serve as the 37th President of the United States.  When you experience failure in your life as a businessman, please remember it’s just a defeat. It’s not permanent unless you make it so.  You’re not beaten! Take Confucius’ advice and rise again!

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