Why Aren’t You Pursuing Your WHY?

Right now I’m reading one of the best books I’ve ever read called Start With Why by Simon Sinek. In the book, Simon fires off so many nuggets that I could literally dedicate a series of posts just to this book. However, I was reading yesterday and came across a quote that really grabbed my attention and prompted this blog post:

“All great leaders have charisma because all great leaders have clarity of WHY; an undying belief in a purpose or cause bigger than themselves.” (Start With Why, pg. 134)

Simon goes on to tell Bill Gates’ story and how his WHY is to “help us all become more productive and achieve our greatest potential.” (pg. 134) Want to know a leadership secret? Because of his WHY, everything Bill does is dedicated towards his WHY and his cause. Great leaders have a crystal clear WHY and, as a result, dedicate their lives to finding new ways, different WHATs to bring their cause and passion to life. That’s why Bill and Melinda have the Gates Foundation. Through their foundation, they’ve led the charge for around 100 billionaires who have pledged to donate half their wealth to philanthropy as well as leading the charge to defeat malaria. Through these two missions, their goal is to help millions of people have the opportunity to realize their greatest potential.

Maybe your why isn’t as huge as Bill Gates’, though. Guess what? You have a driving purpose, a passion, a dream. As a Christian, I happen to believe that God has given each and every one of us a dream and a purpose for living. What is yours? If you don’t know, I would highly encourage you to take some time to think about it.

Now think about WHAT you are doing right now in your job, business ventures, free time, etc. If you know your WHY, are your current WHATs helping you achieve that cause and passion? If not, maybe that’s why you aren’t happy doing what you are doing.

Your WHY should determine why you do your WHAT. People tend to feel like they are in a rut because they aren’t following God’s purpose for their lives. The reason a WHY is so inspiring is because it encompasses something that is greater than ourselves. It shouldn’t just be about you. If it is, then your WHY is too small. If we pursue our WHY, we are intended to touch the lives of a large number of people. That’s how a God-inspired WHY works.

But not only that… if we pursue our WHY with passion, because it is touches the lives of so many others, it’s very possible that others may begin asking you if they can be a part of it. According to Sinek:

“When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and may want to take part in bringing it to life. If that belief is amplified it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare, “I want to help.” With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen.” (pg. 136-137)

I’d really suggest that if you don’t know what your WHY is, figure it out. I promise you that God has a plan and a purpose for your life. He has placed a dream and cause on your heart. I’ve heard it referred to as the “sweet spot”. It is up to you to figure out what that is.

Life will not always be perfect. However, it will be much more fulfilling if you can figure out what your “sweet spot” is and run at it with full speed and might. Pursue your cause so that great strides and achievements can be made. This world will be a better place if you are aiming to pursue your dream.

Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

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Being Content With Your Station in Life

Proverbs 30:21–28

21 The earth shakes under three things; under four things it is not able to bear. 22 Under a court official that becomes king; and a fool that satisfies himself with bread. 23  Under a hated woman that is married; and a female slave that dispossesses her queen. 24 Four things are among the smallest things of the earth; and they are extremely wise. 25 The ants are a nation that is not strong, they still prepare their food in the summer. 26 The rock badgers are a nation that is not powerful, they still fashion their homes in the cliff. 27 There is no king for the locust, they all still march forth divided in groups. 28 The lizard is regularly caught by hands, but that animal is in the palaces of a king.

by Trevor Tarpinian

Are you familiar with Mickey Mouse’s performance as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” in Disney’s Fantasia? Do you remember the disastrous series of events that follow his attempt at playing sorcerer? Of course, Disney still manages to pull off its trademark happy ending (even to a Goethe poem!). No one can stay mad at Mickey Mouse. In fact, we might even sympathize with Mickey and applaud the cunning scheme that he devises to avoid doing his chores – until that terrible moment when he loses control. Everything falls apart because he was not yet ready to be the sorcerer or wield his power. Walt Disney saw the lesson to be learned in being discontent with one’s position or status, just as Goethe did centuries earlier, and the writer of Proverbs 30 before him.

Let’s observe a few select features of the passage:

Monarchies and empires in the ancient world operated by the divine right of kings. If God appointed a leader, anyone who usurped a king’s reign disrupted divine order. This explains David’s hesitancy to lay a hand on Saul, the “Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam 24:6). Prov 30:22 highlights the upheaval caused by a servant’s usurpation of his king’s throne. The Hebrew word translated “servant,” might be better read as “court official” here (cf. Neh 2:10, 19; 1 Kings 1:47; 2 Kings 24:10; 25:24.1 ). If so, it paints an even more sinister picture of a trusted official betraying his king. In either case, it demonstrates gross disrespect for the divine appointment of a king.

The word for “fool” in v.22b is found elsewhere in the OT. In 2 Sam 3:33–34 it means “lawless one” and is parallel to “sons of wickedness.” In Isa 32:5, the “fool” parallels “the rogue” or scoundrel” and next in v.6 describes one who occupies himself with evil, practices ungodliness, and spreads heresy. Jer 17:11 describes this person as one who gains wealth by injustice. Psa 14:1 describes this person as a vile evildoer. Prov 17:21 and Job 30:8 demonstrate that this person is a disgrace and a dishonor to their kin and community, possibly even divested from an inheritance. Given this character profile, the “fool” deserves physical punishment, disinheritance, and death. His consumption of food runs contrary to this in two ways. First, it reflects society’s permissiveness toward the fool. His ability to eat well demonstrates that society rewards rather than ostracizes him. Second, his nourishment gives him sustenance to continue his evil.

Examples of the “hated woman” in Prov 20:23 occur in other OT passages. Gen 29:31, 33 refer to Jacob hating Leah. Deut 21:15, 17 describe a married woman who is despised in comparison to another wife. These texts refer to women that were already married and lends support to understanding the woman in Prov 30:23 as already married (so the NIV; contra the KJV, NASB, ESV, NKJV, NRSV). Since this despised wife is in harmful competition with another, more favored wife, the “earthshaking” feature of this line is unrest in the sphere of the family. It negatively demonstrates that God intends tranquility in the sphere of the family. Anxiety, disfavor, and competition – all symptoms of a despised wife – metaphorically shake the world’s fundamental social institution to its core.

The use of the number four in Prov 30:21 and 30:24 provides us introductions to two separate, but related proverbs. It helps us structure two units of thought that we can summarize in the following:

Unit 1 Summary: Prov 30:21–23 observe four things that turn the world upside. They run against the grain of God’s intended social order. Usurping power because of disloyalty (servant) or seduction (maidservant), especially among public figures, corrodes polity and society. Further, an evil “fool’s” provision attests to society’s permissiveness toward unjust gain. A disfavored wife shows distress and upheaval at the family level, a place in which God intended tranquility and safety.

Unit 2 Summary: In contrast to four social upheavals that can cause headlines and commotion in the world, Prov 30:24–28 show four creatures that unceremoniously demonstrate wisdom in overcoming their limitations. Ants and rock badgers accomplish their self-preservation by storing food and building fortified shelter respectively, despite being small or weak. Locusts overcome their bulk by acting in solidarity. Lizards, although vulnerable to capture, have the ability to find safe residence in palaces.

In our first proverb (vv.21–23), we observe four people that act out of dissatisfaction and profoundly disrupt social order as God has ordained it. In our second proverb (vv.24–28), we observe four ordinary but wise creatures in the natural order that seem to get by just fine with the resources at their disposal. What significance does Prov 30:21–28 have to your business practice? Let me offer some suggestions for implementing two principles from these proverbs:

  • Be respectful to the authorities in your realm of business because it helps maintain order and stability, especially for your clients.

Think your derisive comments about upper-management are inconsequential? You might set office precedent and subsequently become the object of similar hissing from your subordinates next week. If you are an independent professional who doesn’t report to anyone, think of how your attitude toward vendors, companies, regulators, and legislators might influence peers in your network of influence? A few words could sway them to change their business practices, ultimately affecting the products or services to their clients. Have you ever known better than an experienced superior, only to realize down the road how ignorant you must have sounded and how disastrous your ideas would have been if implemented? Consider writing one of these memories down (or better yet, submit it to FailDetroit) and reflecting on it the next time you’re dissatisfied with an authority. Their installation in a decision-making position might be harmful rather than orderly, but your involvement might be even worse.

  • Find contentment in the rhythm and cycle of your work.

We shouldn’t expect a 3,000 year old proverb to be any less counter-cultural. We value constant upgrading and upsizing – our meals, phones, computers, cars, houses, careers. We like novelty and change (unless it’s Mr. Obama’s variety). We get bored quickly and most of us find routine to be a threatening tedium. In fact, this may be an implicit motivation for the earth-shaking actions of 30:21–23. Yet the sage points to four unremarkable creatures and illustrates how easily they flourish within the confines of their “routine.” Consider the challenge employee retention poses for many companies. You feel under-appreciated, under-paid, under-challenged? So does everyone else. What would it mean for your retention if you could model contentment to your employees? We all experience burnout and boredom. We go through the motions in any job. How valuable would your experience be to your employees if you could share the tricks that got you through their position for eight years? You’ll never be able to share it if you haven’t done it. What message do you communicate to your colleagues and customers if you change jobs every three years? What does it tell them if you have established yourself in a single industry for two decades, despite recessions, markets swings, and legislative challenges? It doesn’t take a sage to know your clients want long term consistency and stability from the people with whom they work. Identify aspects of your work that offer you fulfillment. Use them to get yourself and others through the dry seasons so you can ensure long term benefits to your clients and yourself.

It could always be worse. You could be pointlessly carrying water buckets for a sorcerer.

Trevor Tarpinian is a financial representative for all things insurance at TFI Insurance & Benefits, a Michigan native, and a beer league hockey player. When he’s not watching the Detroit Red Wings, he’s helping professionals and business owners manage risk, minimize tax exposure, and strategize succession planning. You can contact him via e-mail at Trevor.t@tfiins.com or follow him on Twitter at @FerrisBueller66 (Personal) or @TFIInsuranceBen (Business).

1 So Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15–31, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 494.

Be Faithful: There Are No Overnight Successes

Proverbs 28:19-20

NIV- “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty. A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”

On the news these days, I seem to hear more than ever about get-rich-quicks and the “next greatest thing/overnight success”. Having a network marketing background, I heard it way too often from others in that industry. In my four years in the industry, I came across businesses I couldn’t believe were even allowed to open their doors. I heard promises of riches in a month, two months and sometimes even sooner. Way too many today are looking for the easy way. Here’s a secret: there is no such thing. If you so choose to pursue the easy way, your prophecy is right above in Proverbs 28:19-20.

In today’s business world of Facebooks, Googles and Instagrams, it’s easy to imagine smooth journeys straight to overnight success. But how many people are truly overnight successes? A lot of times we see the success and celebration of “making it”, but we rarely see the journey that led them to that point. And more often than not, it is a story that is filled with countless setbacks, failures and crushing defeats.

It’s the journey, not the success that moves and inspires people. Why? Because people want to see evidence and proof that they can be great too. Nobody would want to listen to someone get up in front of an audience to tell their story if they had no setbacks and failures along the way. Can you imagine? Their story would consist of: “Well I built this business doing X, Y and Z and we had success right away. The end.” How boring…We want to hear what worked but we also want to know what didn’t work and how people responded to the trials along the way.

In business, you can expect failures to happen along the way. It’s part of your journey and, most importantly, it’s part of your story. As verse 20 above says, though, be faithful. If you are faithful in pursuing the seed and purpose that God has planted in your heart, as the verse goes on to say, you will be richly blessed.

A few friends and I recently launched a new project called Fail Detroit. The premise of  it is this, “We all fail. Learn from it.” Those 6 words are gold. In our business and careers, we are going to experience failures and mistakes that are painful and humiliating. Bank on it. The reason we started Fail Detroit is because of what is on the other side of those failures and setbacks. What would the world be like if Thomas Edison had stopped after failed attempt #9,234 to create the light bulb? What if James Dyson had quit before his completing his 5100 experiments that eventually led to his revolutionary vacuum cleaner? Get the picture?

It’s not just your personal success that is on the other side of perseverance and faithfulness. It’s your lasting impact and potential lasting legacy. I read this in a recent post by Josh Linkner:

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing websites in history, but struggled for a long time. Pinterest’s CEO recently said that they had “catastrophically small numbers” in their first year after launch and that if he had listened to popular startup advice he probably would have quit.”

As a result of their perseverance, Pinterest has now made (and continues to make) an enormous impact in several ways: creating jobs which adds to the economy, giving entrepreneurs and others with hobbies ways to showcase their products and talents and offering entertainment to those who get satisfaction out of “pinning”, just to name a few.

So next time you are going through a trial or a setback, think about what is potentially on the other side. If you refuse to quit, the world will be a better place as a result of you persevering and being faithful.

Find Your Groove and Start Dancing

Proverbs 29:10

NIV- “The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.”

ESV- “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.”

This verse in Proverbs is a warning that we, as Christians, must endure persecution if we choose to take up our cross and follow Christ. Persecution is promised all throughout the Bible. In Matthew 5:11, Jesus says “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

And how should we respond to persecution? Persecution is something we should wear with a badge of honor. Jesus says to “Rejoice” and “Be glad”. It’s proof that we are living for something greater than ourselves. But at the same time, we are told to love those that persecute us. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

If you truly believe that God has called you to do what you are doing, here’s the best way to respond to the persecution: Love your enemies that persecute you but combat the insults and curses by continuing to pursue what you have already begun pursuing.

In the same way, as entrepreneurs and innovators, those of us that step out in faith to follow God’s plan for our lives are going to get those tomatoes thrown at us. In a recent blog post, entrepreneur and writer, Josh Linkner, likens it to dancing and calls it “following your own groove”. I’m going to re-word that: God has planted a groove in our hearts. Our job is to figure out what that groove is and start dancing to it. Josh goes on to say this:

“Ever notice the people making the biggest impact in the world?  They are the first to be shunned.  When these rule-breakers emerge, they’re told to “get back in the line” and are pressured to comply with the “social norms.”

The heroes we celebrate, from the Beatles to Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison to Dr. King, were first laughed at and sharply criticized.  Thankfully, they didn’t waste the time or energy to care much about the onlookers pointing fingers.  The jealousy and fear of others didn’t strip these renegades of their vision; the world would certainly be a much duller place if it had.”

If we, as believers of Christ, make a decision to follow what His plan is for our lives, there are going to be naysayers. Sure, we’ll have some supporters but the naysayers tend to be the loudest. They’ll think we are crazy. They’ll probably tell all our friends about how we went off the deep end. Why? Because us stepping out in faith to do something great makes them feel uncomfortable. I love Mr. Linkner’s message later in the post:

“In your own pursuits, don’t validate those casting doubt and ostracizing your fresh approach to comfort their own selves. Focus every ounce of your energy on your art, and you will change the hearts and minds of those that lack the courage to dance their own dance.

The more original you are, the more friction you’ll notice (if you bother looking). So let the naysayers blend into the background while your unique rhythmic interpretation shines. Before long, they’ll be copying your moves and celebrating your creativity.”

So figure out what that groove is that God has planted in your heart. Enduring persecution from naysayers is part of the process. But, as Josh says, let them blend into the background. If you pursue and achieve the dream God has planted in your heart, eventually the naysayers will become your biggest supporters. So what are you waiting for? Start dancing.

Three Weaknesses to Avoid as Leaders

Proverbs 29:2

NIV- “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

MSG- “When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.”

Have you ever had a boss that makes everyone groan when he enters the room? The type of boss that, in anticipation (and fear), forces people to grip their chairs in an effort to hold on for the potential roller coaster that may ensue. I’ve heard these types of people referred to as sunshine: the instant they leave the room, everything becomes brighter again. It is my prayer that I never turn into that leader.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with and for some very good leaders in my young business career, but no one is perfect. Every leader, including you and me, has his or her strengths and weaknesses. In my leadership training, I’ve learned that it is important to emulate the strengths of leaders we admire as well as learn from their weaknesses. In the end, as leaders, no matter how hard we work we will never be perfect. However, we will only be most effective if the strengths we have outweigh the weaknesses.

Recently, I came across an article titled Five Characteristics of Weak Leaders by one of my favorite leadership authors, Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In it, he tells of a book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called Team of Rivals which gives an account of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. While Goodwin writes about Lincoln’s overall political genius and leadership abilities, his leadership was not always perfect. During the Civil War, Lincoln appointed General George McClellan to be commander of the “Army of the Potomac”. Later, McClellan would become first general-in-chief of the Union Army. Ultimately, this ended up being the wrong decision by Lincoln.

In the article, Hyatt points out five weaknesses McClellan had: he was hesitant in taking action, complained about the lack of resources, refused to take responsibility, abused his leadership position, and engaged in acts of subordination. Based on the examples Hyatt uses to demonstrate each of McClellan’s flaws, it is easy to understand why the Union Army performed so poorly under his leadership and why he ultimately lost his job.

These are all leadership traits we want to avoid as leaders. In my own personal career, here are three more I’ve experienced:

1. Lack of consistency

This is the leader I described above. They are a roller coaster. When you see them in the morning, you wonder what kind of mood you are going to have to deal with that day. Are they going to have a Monday attitude or a Friday attitude? A rainy day attitude or a sunny and 75 degree attitude? Not only is it difficult for the leader to be effective when lacking consistency, it makes their employees’ job very difficult due when having to constantly adjust to the roller coaster of moods the leader brings to work each day.

2. The overworked

This is the “old-school” leader. A character from a TV show that comes to mind is the dad in The Wonder Years, Jack Arnold. In the show, it seems like every episode he comes home from work exhausted because he is overworked. He can’t even enjoy dinner with his family because he is so worn out, overwhelmed and stressed. This is a heart-attack waiting to happen. God makes it clear that we need to give our all in everything we do when in 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says:

“So whether we eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NIV)

However, it’s important to work hard but we need to play hard too. Being overworked is not healthy. We need to have balance in our lives.

On the other side of this trait, the overworked too often expect their employees to overwork. No one wants to work for a leader that overworks their employees.

3. Lack of integrity

This one is simple. A long time ago, I heard this quote, “If you lose your money, you’ve lost nothing. If you lose a friend, you’ve lost something. If you lose your word, you’ve lost everything.” Don’t ever lose your integrity. Two of our guiding values as leaders always need to be honesty and integrity. Leadership guru Brian Tracy said this, ”The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”

It is so important we learn from those like General McClellan in order to not repeat the missteps he took while in a leadership position. At the same time, it is also important we have self-awareness. Don’t fool yourself. We all have weaknesses. Focus most on your strengths but find out what the weaknesses are and work to minimize them.

5 Ways to Turn Failures Into Success

It seems like backwards-thinking that in order to succeed in business and in our careers we have to go through the failures first. We’ve been conditioned and trained all of our lives to avoid failure. We’ve grown up in a school system that pressures students via a grading scale. We are told we must get good grades in order to get into a good school which will ultimately lead to a successful career. As a result, we grow up terrified of failure.

University of Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino said, “Failure is good. It’s fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned about coaching I’ve learned from making mistakes.”

That last sentence is so important. If we don’t learn from mistakes and failures we make, then we will simply find ourselves going in circles like trying to row a boat with one oar. We improve and move forward because of the lessons learned from failures.

In life, we have opportunities to be mentored and learn from situations. Are you taking advantage of these opportunities or are you being stubborn and allowing them to pass by? I’ve learned to not only have a daily goal to move myself forward in my career but, also, to take something (or somethings) I can learn from as many situations every day. How can we do this?

1) Don’t play the blame game

Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School said this in her article titled Strategies for Learning From Failure:

“Failure and fault are virtually inseparable in most households, organizations, and cultures. Every child learns at some point that admitting failure means taking the blame.”

We can’t move forward and learn from our failures if we aren’t willing to stop blaming others. It’s essential that we accept responsibility for our actions.

2) Counsel with a mentor

Do you have a mentor? If so, utilize the knowledge of that person who, most likely, knows you well and speaks from a position of experience and wisdom. That person got to where they are because they’ve gone through the process of mistakes and failures. Counseling with them can minimize the number of mistakes we will make before eventually tipping the scale towards success.

3) Ask your boss or a superior

If you have a superior, ask them. They work with you on a daily basis and should know your strengths and weaknesses. Show that you are striving to improve and get better. In most cases, they will be impressed that you are willing to humble yourself and recognize that you have weaknesses and want to improve.

4) Take 15 minutes to recap at the end of the day

Very simple. Too many people take opportunities to spend time in thought for granted. We can even do this on our drive home. At the end of the day, think about the things you did right and wrong that day and how you can improve and get better.

5) Persevere. Don’t quit.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That seems crazy to go through 10,000 failures before finally achieving success. Edison believed in what he was doing, though, and that he was part of a cause greater than himself. As a result, he was willing to persevere until he finally achieved his goal.

Failures are a part of the journey toward whatever success is for you. We need to heed Rick Pitino’s advice and allow failure to be the fertilizer. Just think about it… if Thomas Edison hadn’t persevered and allowed failures to be the fertilizer, there’s a chance we would be living without the light bulb today. We need more Thomas Edison’s who are willing to take the necessary steps to learn from failures and persevere until success is achieved.

How To Respond To Immovable Obstacles

Proverbs 29:1

NIV- “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”

MSG- “For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them.”

As a stubborn guy (which my wife can attest to), this verse speaks measures. It’s extremely easy to want to do things “my way” instead of listening to the wise input of others.

One of my favorite shows, Home Improvement, comes to mind when reading this verse. Every episode, it seems like, Tim Allen’s character puts himself in some type of potentially harmful situation and is warned by someone in the show not to go forward with whatever he is doing. And, as a result of his stubbornness, he ignores the warnings and does what he wants or thinks he should do anyway. The end result is, episode after episode, injuries, explosions, holes in walls, beams landing on trucks, etc. In one word…destruction. You get the picture.

There is a difference, however, between being stubborn and refusing to quit. When we face challenges, there are those who truly believe in what they are doing. Then there are the people that the NIV translation calls “stiff-necked”. Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.” People like this hold onto ideas or practices that haven’t worked in the past and continue not to work in the present. They stand in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change. This stubbornness is not only stiff-necked but also foolish. Furthermore, the end result is never positive and can usually be summed up in one word: regret.

In 1985, Coca Cola introduced “New Coke” to replace its original formula which had been around for nearly 100 years at the time. Sergio Zyman, the head of US Marketing who had recently launched Diet Coke successfully was the mastermind behind New Coke and saw this as a golden opportunity to reverse a 20 year market decline against Pepsi. The result was an overwhelmingly negative reaction by the American public which has since been labeled as one of the greatest marketing failures of all-time. Realizing that while humiliation was inescapable, horrendous losses didn’t need to be. As a result, they re-introduced the original formula as “Coca-Cola Classic”, a change that led to a significant gain in sales.

Some companies, on the other hand, aren’t so willing to swallow their pride and stubbornness in order to, in the end, finish the right way. On September 4, 1957, Ford launched its new division, Edsel, named after Edsel Ford on a day hyped as E-day. Consequently, this exciting launch became an utter flop as the reaction from the American public was instantly negative. In fact, Ford became a victim of reverse bandwagon marketing. It became “uncool” to own an Edsel. Even those who owned one regretted making the purchase. In an attempt to reverse this negative trend, Ford invested millions of dollars by hiring Ernest Dichter, the nation’s leading market-research analyst at the time, to help the company determine how to increase sales. In the end, the research laid out the extent of the Edsel’s troubles while offering only a few glimmers of hope for the company.

In 1959, unable to reverse the customer antipathy, Ford announced the end of the Edsel division. As a result of its stubbornness, Ford not only lost a brand but also millions of dollars on the Edsel’s development, manufacture and marketing. Total, the losses exceeded $350 million (about $2.45B in 2012 values). Unfortunately, Ford decided it was going to prove the marketplace was wrong and stuck with its mistake far too long.

While persistence and refusal to quit can be a good thing under the proper circumstances, don’t get caught being pig-headed. The French writer, Simone de Beauvoir said, “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.” An attempt to overcome an immovable obstacle will only lead to regret.

So we have a choice next time we face obstacles impossible to overcome. Will we be like Coke who admitted failure and turned it into a golden opportunity? Or will we be like Ford who attempted to prove the marketplace wrong and, as a result, ended up with regret?