Have any of your recent decisions flopped?
I’ve had a few decisions flop of my own (particularly of the financial kind), and just when I thought I might have to throw in the towel, I learned the truth about failure and am now more passionate than ever about helping people prosper, even in spite of setbacks.
It all started in May 2007 when my 5 year-old ran inside the house yelling, “Mom, Bethany’s lips are blue!!!”
I heard the intense panic in his voice all the way upstairs in my office and I went numb. I’m not sure my feet even touched the floor as I flew down the stairs and out to the backyard with one intention: to see my three year-old (pictured above) well.
My seven year-old was by the side of the pool with her, having discovered her floating face-down in the deep end. He had already pulled her out all by himself and was waiting for me, hoping I could make everything all better.
She lay there, lifeless. Lips blue, no heartbeat, and not breathing. My nine year-old daughter was standing, crying, and I yelled at her to call 911. She froze, feeling the weight and seriousness of the situation. “Call 911! CALL 911!!!” I yelled again and again until she finally ran inside.
I had failed to keep my three year-old safe from this tragedy. Even though I had previously been successful at teaching her how to swim, on that day I failed to be watchful enough.
Subconscious programming took over. My first instinct was to pick my little girl up and lay her over my knee, upside down, as I patted her back. That’s what I had done for 15 years whenever my babies had trouble breathing, but of course it didn’t work, because she wasn’t choking. Strike two—I failed again. I had only one intention in mind: to see her well, and I made a mistake. I did the wrong thing. I failed.
Immediately I turned her over and laid her down again, letting her head hit the deck too hard in my frantic effort to try something else. Strike three—I blundered again. I hurt her in an effort to help her. I made a mistake. My intention was to see her well, but I failed again.
If she were awake, she may have complained that I had hurt her head. But there was no response. How I would have rejoiced to hear her complain!
Get oxygen to her brain; that’s what I had to do. But I hadn’t had CPR training since 1991. All those detailed, systematic instructions of what to do were forgotten in that moment. All I knew is that she needed oxygen to her brain until the paramedics showed up. I put my mouth over hers and gave her a breath. But it didn’t do anything except come rushing out of her nose. Strike three—once again, I messed up. I failed.
At least it helped me remember that I needed to plug her nose.
So the next time, I plugged her nose, gave her a breath and it filled her chest. Common sense told me that it wasn’t her chest that needed the oxygen, it was her brain; and since her silent heart was designed to do the job, I gave her three or four chest compressions, and another breath. Another round of compressions, and she finally began to revive.
She spent the night in the hospital and gratefully, she completely recovered.
There were, of course, lessons to be learned from this horrific experience. A shallow lesson learned was to be more watchful. Anyone could have learned that. A deeper lesson was to really comprehend on a whole new level how nothing material matters, so long as our family is in tact.
But a few months later, as I sat in a hotel room finishing up the creation of my 12-week home study course, I had an even deeper epiphany, which led me to conclude that I was meant to experience all of our financial setbacks, as well as this incident with my daughter, to learn a fundamental, universal truth that I had never really grasped before.
I thought back to our flopped investments, and I thought about my daughter. It was then that I realized this:
We all make mistakes. With good intentions we sometimes fail. Nobody achieves success at remarkable levels and long-lasting prosperity without experiencing some failure along the way.
How we respond to failure is really what determines whether or not we should expect to enjoy success.
We must learn from our mistakes and press on.
How many times did I fail with my daughter? At least four.
How foolish it would have been to stop even for a second to bemoan my failure!!! There was no time to stop and beat myself up!!!
Her life was on the line, and each failure provided valuable feedback to help me eventually get it right. If I had stopped to think about “poor me,” I could have missed the window of time that decides whether she lives or dies, is handicapped or well.
Failure? It’s nothing more than feedback.
Financial mistakes are no different. If you’ve experienced a few and are having trouble picking yourself up again, remember that your financial life is on the line. Take too long to bemoan your mistakes, or to point blame at others, and it could literally mean financial death or long-term handicap for you. Besides, when we blame others, we lose power to solve the problem.
It’s time to take a deep breath, take responsibility for where you’re at, learn from the experience, and get busy creating again. Prosperity is still yours for the achieving. When one door closes, another one always opens. But we only find it if we stop looking so longingly at the door that closed.
This story was derived from a lesson in phase 2 of my 12-week Mindset Mastery Program. If you’ve gained valuable insight from this story but are not ready to invest in the full 12-week Mindset Mastery program, check out our less expensive options here. Originally published October 20, 2007