Sunday, December 18, 2011

Failure in perspective- lesson from a Christmas party

Sorry I missed Sunday's post.  I had a mild hangover and a friend's play to get to, and couldn't squeeze in a post.  I hope this make up for it though, a picture of me and my husband, dressed up (happens less frequently than blue moons), and a story from the party.

As I wrote on Saturday, my husband and I drove the hour and a half to Redwood City to attend his company Christmas party.  As much as I whined, I had a great time.  I'd forgotten how much I like one of his coworker's wives.  We chatted and drank and laughed through the night.  I even went home tipsy (a very rare thing for me to do).  The evening even held a good life lesson.

While at the party, the 92 year old company founder gave a short speech, which was a good life lesson.  I thought I'd share to give you all a bit of perspective.  This man, Mr. Q, commented that he'd had a great life and that it doesn't matter when he'll go because he'd done so much.  He also said that he was grateful for his failures.  This may be an odd thing to be grateful for, especially since the failure he chose as an illustration cost him $27,000,000.  But, for that $27,000,000 he has done something very few people can say.  He created and built his own car line.  It didn't make any money and they are not well known vehicles, but he did, while meeting everyone of the U.S. vehicle safety regulations.  It was also touching to see people jump up to get him a chair to sit in and speak and eyes tearing up at the thought of him passing away.  Some of his employees have worked for him for decades (one man for over 40 years, one of the secretaries for 37).  Whether I agree with his business practices or political views, I cannot deny that he has created a lasting legacy that includes my family and will influence many lives for much longer.  

It struck me that this man, who has raced cars and run races, built many successful businesses, and broken records, chose to speak about his failures as a way to gauge his successes with such gratitude.  So, next time you feel like you've screwed something up badly, think about this.  What did it cost you?  What did you learn?  How does it compare in the grand scheme of things?  Is there anything in that failure that you can be proud of or grateful for?  I suddenly feel like my biggest mistake is rather small all things considered, don't you?

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