“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting
when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” ~ Napoleon Hill

One of my clients quotes the psychologist Erikson who claims that in adolescence we each need a period of “moratorium” in which we don’t make any decisions about who we are and what we’re about, so that we don’t “foreclose” on our dreams.

When our business is in adolescence (or any time really) I believe we need a moratorium in which we don’t draw any conclusions about whether what we’re doing is working. We just keep going, one step in front of the other, until it starts working. (Of course, it’s great to have a coach who can help you to discern when it’s really not working, and when you’re just in fear.)

I began thinking about this because I received a couple of emails this week from clients saying things that were in line with temporary defeat. They were wondering why things weren’t working and why it had gotten so hard.

And I had, as any coach reading this can relate to, that gut sinking feeling. Oh, crap, did we miss something? Is this person really off track?

Luckily I don’t entertain those thoughts long any more, though I do always take a step back and ask – did we miss something?

In my case this week, with each of these clients, it was simply a case of being “3 feet from gold.” Each of them had finally put a stake in the ground, demanding a certain level of clarity from themselves and their business, and begun a much bolder messaging path, or marketing approach.

And they got scared.

They’d felt so much relief at finally “figuring it out,” that they expected it to suddenly be easy.

And the truth is, that they are right. If they can get through the discomfort that happens at that spot in which they are “3 feet from gold,” all the riches are on the other side, and it does become easy. Until we grow again.

In Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Hill shares the story of a gold miner who stopped drilling and sold his equipment for junk, later to learn that he had quit just 3 feet from the gold. The junk man hired an expert and took his equipment back to the spot he’d quit, and with the right help, and made millions. The miner had had evidence that he was on the right path, but gave in to the temporary defeat of not initially finding the gold.

Success is generally disguised as temporary defeat.

Did you send a newsletter that was more heartfelt than usual, and were met with a higher opt-out rate? You felt defeat, but I say GOOD! You’re getting the people who don’t resonate with your Truth off of your list, and prepping your list to be hugely receptive to your next message. Unless you quit.

Did you invest in your business – in coaching, sponsoring, speaking, etc. – and it didn’t pay off immediately? Yet that experience moved you forward in such a way that your very next action is about to pay off big time, if you don’t pull back and quit investing!

Stay the Course

The miner in Think and Grow Rich learned his lesson and went on to make millions in his next endeavor, because he learned that quitting was not an option.

My “worst” moments in the history of my business have come with some of the very best lessons that serve me fully today. But this can only happen if you remain solid in your faith that you are on the right path, and that the gold is there. It has to be.

The closer we get to gold, the more it will feel like defeat, until it doesn’t. (Remember the Cycle of Proving?) You make a decision and begin to take action, and the exact thing shows up to validate your fear. It will look like defeat… like you’re doing it all wrong. You’re not.

A successful story of defeat

A beautiful woman entrepreneur had spent many years creating an image of herself as not very beautiful, not very decisive, not super confident, and very, well, “nice.”

She begins to grow a business that she is hugely passionate about. She is clear she wants to change the world.

She chooses her marketing message and begins to make some money. She brings in some clients that are very beautiful and very confident. She notices she feels nervous helping them because she does not see herself this way. Subtle sabotage begins to kick in, and her clients start to leave. It feels like major defeat.

But with some outside help she sees that this not defeat, it is simply the Universe reflecting back to her where her own certainty stops. She needs to see herself as beautiful and confident, and to begin making clear, bold decisions that may not feel “nice.”

She buys some new clothes and invests in a new hair cut and color. She begins saying things she used to hold back for fear of judgment. She starts to feel more confident and begins to make more money.

Then one day she reads her website and realizes that it no longer reflects what she believes, because as she had grown, so has her point of view. Not only that, but those photos are so out of date!

She decides to invest in rebranding herself. But she learns that the new website and photos, etc., will cost her more money than she has coming in right now! Defeat!

Well, it could be defeat, or it could be planting the seeds of desire to receive more money to enable the investment. She stretches and grows her own belief and begins to bring in new, higher-level clients. Her new website reflects her growth.

Next, she decides that her new, better clients would really benefit a lot from meeting each other. There is tremendous value in connecting them, and she loves to work in a group. She begins to plan an event. She has a picture of the people who will be in the room. She sees it going perfectly.

Then she learns the cost to host an event. She gets scared. She secures the date without a signed contract and begins to advertise, looking for proof that this event will work. The people who she pictured registering for her event tell her that they are not going to come. Event space on hold, no evidence of success. Temporary defeat.

At some level she’s been mentally preparing to quit.

But she won’t (she made a commitment to her coach after all :)). She needs to look for the gold. If the original people she envisioned aren’t coming, why might that be? Who might they be making space for? And she begins to look for the right people, and completely identifies a new tribe that she truly loves, way more than the original people she envisioned.

We Can’t Know Until We Grow

If you read this story and feel exhausted, well, you might not be in the right business! As we build a thriving business, we’ll meet many little defeats along the way. And we can’t know, or see them clearly, until we grow past them.

The gold doesn’t come from having it all go perfectly. Much of the time, it comes from simply allowing yourself to be with the discomfort of a perceived failure long enough to see the success on the other side.

  • Create a strategy and stick with it long enough to measure the tangible results.
  • Speak your Truth, knowing that it will make people uncomfortable and some will leave.
  • Invest in a strategy that you want to make work, and execute the heck out of it with excellence.

Most entrepreneurs would never have started if they’d known their path would involve so much temporary defeat. And what a shame that would be! What if we can love the defeat as much as we love the victory, knowing that it’s all part of the journey to gold?

If you have one of those moments in which your fear is screaming, “stop,” and the tiny voice of your Truth says, “what if?,” call me. You can borrow my faith until you have your own.


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