How I Survived a ‘Stabbing’ at a Lion King production – And You Can too!
That Moment When…
The worst feeling crept up on me as I watched the curtains close for the intermission of a Lion King production in Australia. The pain was tangible, as if I had been stabbed and I couldn’t catch my breath.
Something terrible just happened to my business.
I don’t know how I knew it, but I did. It was a sinking feeling that something was going on with my business partner, Shane*.
Up until that point, I had been enjoying the most remarkable vacation of my life with my wife, Jeannine, celebrating her one-year recovery from breast cancer. We had no idea that our toughest financial trial would follow so quickly on the heels of our hardest health trial.
I only had 15 minutes before Lion King started again, so I called up Shane in St. Louis.
No answer. Where could he be?
Shane and I had just spent the last 15 months developing the business plan and marketing for a product we were both excited about, an oak-aged pure cane cola called Shane Baril. We had visited top executives at Coca Cola who loved the concept. Impressive accomplishments backed up our work – Shane as one of the “Top 100 Brand” executives in the U.S., and myself as a twice-recognized Inc. 500 entrepreneur.
Our cola concept was almost reality. It could not have been going better.
We finally had the bottle made, the cola formulated, the offering documents prepared, and were ready for an investor meeting. A handmade miniature wooden delivery truck went to prospective investors promising delivery would begin soon. A room at the Ritz Carlton awaited our big presentation, coming up in just two weeks
What happened next would defy all logic.
When I finally got a hold of my business partner, he told me he had abandoned our business to take a high-profile job in New York.
“I can’t even tell you why I did it,” Shane said when he called me back. “I guess I’m not a small business person.”
I was shocked, “why did you do this?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you,” he said. “I don’t know myself well enough to even know why I did.”
I didn’t know what to say. Shane and I had worked together almost every day for more than a year, had prayed continually, laughed often, and had become best friends as couples. But when he decided to take that New York job, he didn’t even call me. There was no way to face the investors after Shane left. How could they support something my own business partner hadn’t believed in? The entire cola concept collapsed.
I had been so convinced that this new company would launch that I hadn’t pursued new business for my agency in over a year. It failed too.
Once again, Jeannine and I sought God as never before. Oh Lord, we are so confused, but we will NOT let the thief steal our joy, we prayed. We commit to draw closer to you, to trust you, and to honor you through this ordeal.
We had no idea that the recovery from the business loss would be as prolonged and as severe as it was. During my wife’s battle with breast cancer, we learned what it meant to tackle adversity as a couple. There were sweet times where we came together as never before in love, faith, and resolve. So it was with this trial as well.
The business drought lasted for years. During this time we downsized our home, moved to the country, started a church, and learned some powerful life lessons on dealing with this kind of failure.
I would like to share those lessons with you. This is what we learned.
10 Tips for Failing Forward
1. Know truth: Never let your ego get so close to your career that your identity depends on your success. Who you are is not what you do. And truth doesn’t depend on your circumstances. When emotions overpower reason, it’s easy to forget that truth is on your side. Christ’s victory allows you to live above your circumstances. Don’t believe your doubts. Believe your beliefs!
“For this reason I was born..that I should bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
2. Quit trying to figure it all out: Things will go wrong and people will let you down. It’s what you do with these feelings that cause lasting problems. Many times you won’t know the true motivations behind a bad situation, just like I couldn’t figure out why my business partner abandoned our dream project. Don’t lose your heart. Sometimes the greatest freedom is found in the graceful act of forgiving others. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways my ways...” (Isaiah 55:8).
3. Living in the Land of God’s Promises beats living in the wilderness. I hate the wilderness, apart from God. It’s scary. The good news is God allows me to choose where I live. All but two of the Hebrews delivered out of captivity in Egypt remained and died in the wilderness “because of their unbelief” (Hebrews 3:1). God loves us and calls us to the land of His promises: “Be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess” (Deuteronomy 11:8). God gives us the choice: “I am setting before you a blessing and a curse, will you obey or not obey?”
4. Be realistic. James says to consider it pure joy whenever you face trials. It’s part of the journey. But we get to walk without fear, because we also know how the story ends. We come home safely, in glory! “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life” (John 10:10).
5. You can’t be both joyful and stressed out. One steals from the other, so choose joy! In Philippians 4:6, Paul says stop being anxious. It’s stated in the imperative form, as if Paul is saying, “Stop worrying. I’m not kidding, quit freaking out!” Joy is not determined by people or circumstance, but by who God is. Paul says stop this (v6, worrying), and do this (v6 pray, with thanksgiving) and receive this (v7, peace).
6. Focus on what’s important vs. today’s problems. Most of the problems going on today won’t matter a year from now. Know what’s important, which will stop you from worrying about the other stuff.
7. Do what your mom taught you. Help others, give thanks, and do the right thing. It takes the focus off yourself.
8. Refocus from failure to that thing you love to do. Focus on the one thing that is your heart’s desire, the one thing that will make a difference.That ‘why’ is your source of passion; it allows you to be genuine to who you are. God says in the Book of Revelation, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4, NKJV).
So where am I now?
That failure was so tough that it forced me to focus on my faith, my purpose, and my passion.
Faith has always been important to me. And my #1 passion is helping entrepreneurs build remarkable companies. That’s why I combined the two to start Faith Driven Business. I wanted to help entrepreneurs who were facing the same struggles I had endured, and pass on what I had learned along the way.
Sometimes it’s a hard journey. Sometimes you’ll cry out to God in desperation and ask what happened to your dream. But don’t confuse one failed business idea with a failed life. Find your passion again and use it.
*Name has been changed
Steve Hoeft is the Founder and CEO of Faith Driven Business and a twice-recognized Inc. 500 entrepreneur. He started Faith Driven Businesss to help entrepreneurs build awesome businesses while growing spiritually. Find out more about Steve and his company at FaithDrivenBusiness.com (http://faithdrivenbusiness.com/).