big time crappy-butt failure, RIGHT HERE!!

I get a lot of junk email, and it’s work to find something of value within many bold black subject lines stacked in my inbox. But rarely is something from Steve Chandler ‘junk’.

Today, in his E-Motivator, he talked about writer’s block. About waiting to start. About the voice in our heads that says, ‘I don’t have anything good enough yet, to begin writing about’,  or ‘I’m not inspired,’ or ‘I’m stuck.’ He unpacks the myth of writer’s block, and shows us that we just need to start, somewhere, anywhere and do it badly.

He quotes Anne Lamott “The key to writing, she says, is to just start typing anything – it can be the worst thing you’ve ever written, it doesn’t matter.”

BUT, he points out this is the key to motivation in any endeavor, not just writing. And that ‘clicks’ with me! Ha! Starting badly? Screwing up? Trying in a crappy way? Failing? I’ve done that!

Yay! and Yeah!

I do get this idea that starting somewhere, and even badly can be really good for us. And here’s the part you’ve been waiting to hear… My failures and mistakes!

In the spring of 2010, I left my job of 10 years to set out and begin my own business. I had become completely debt-free through using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. I had been to train with his team in Nashville, and I wanted to help others do the same. I would be a personal financial coach! Cool!!

Except… Except, I failed at that. I screwed it all up. I pushed away friends and even family in my exuberance to ‘help’. I gave this ‘business’ a shot, in the fact that I kinda sorta told some people, what I could help them with, in a kinda sorta crappy way. I didn’t present things the best. I didn’t really love certain parts of it all. The numbers aren’t my expertise, it was more about the ideas of change, and a bunch of blah-blah-blah, that I didn’t do a good job of communicating… Because ultimately, I didn’t want to. I know this, because I quit, before I’d mastered it. That means I chose the outcome of failure… And yeah, that sucked.

Oooh, Oooh, Oooh!! BUT, Then I had a new idea! Instead of being a personal financial coach, and helping people in the sensitive area of money, which is uncomfortable for most to discuss, I’ll switch it up, drop the ‘financial’ part and just be a life coach! Yeah! That would be much better! You know without the numbers to deal with, and just the changes. I would love that! It would be amazing to help people change and transform in exciting ways that could open up their world and express their talents in satisfying and even lucrative ways! Yeah!! Cool!!

So again, I trained with the world’s best. I flew around the country and spent time and money and energy soaking up the wisdom of bestselling authors and seven-figure coaches of world famous people! Cool! NOW, I’ll come back to our little spot in the world, right here and help people the same way! Cool!

Except… Except, I failed at that too. I didn’t do all the things I could have, to really grind out the fears in me, to really share openly with others, what could be possible for them. I was spending more time, working on myself, than actually being open to those individuals who do want someone else to join them on the journey self development and discovery. I sorta gave up on that too. I did have success with those people I worked with. A couple have gone on, to expand and explore further. They’ve had career improvement and have had a chance to see themselves from a new perspective, that only comes from this kind of relationship…. BUT, overall, as it comes down to the bottom line, I’ve failed at this too…

Yeah, big time crappy-butt failure, RIGHT HERE!!

But no, really, it’s true….


Today, I’m headed off to work this morning, to help run this family restaurant, The Brand’N Iron. By helping to run, I mean that I am involved in almost every aspect of the business. Front to back, top to bottom, almost all the daily stuff, is handled by myself or my brother-in-law Chad, or both of us. Thank God, I had a chance to fail at those other businesses opportunities before I got to this one. I hope this endeavor doesn’t end up like the other two… or more…

Did I also mention that in the last couple years, I started working as a social media guru for an online motorcycle parts house, started a marketing and design firm, started the idea of writing books, including my life story, a book about a baby bristlecone pine tree, and other children’s adventures too… Yeah, I failed at those too…

This restaurant business is all of this stuff rolled up into one. We’ve got financial questions coming up everyday. We have life-coaching opportunities almost continuously. I help market and advertise and design the brand of our Brand’N Iron all the time too. I write, super shorty sentences on our roadside sign too.

All of this stuff up for me as challenges, I can handle, because I’ve been practicing now for years. I still screw up all the time too. I still fall on my face and have to backtrack. I still know that I will not perfect this ‘job’ anytime soon. It’s all a work in progress.

As hard as it was, for me to take, the reality of my own personal failures, I have to thank God for them. Truly, it has been devastating and depressing and tough, for me to handle over the last couple years. I have always loved the approval of others, I have sought to have and say things that show myself in a positive light. With all these screw-ups, it’s been difficult to pleasantly answer questions like “How are you doing?”, “Where are you working now?” and stuff like that. OUCH, it really has been hard. And, I know that all those things were my choosing, my own prerogatives. I gave up and I failed. Thank God.

Now, I have scrubbed that fear of failure with the 80-grit sandpaper of experience. It’s not gone, but it is worn down, smoothed out, not as splintery and dangerous anymore. I will fail today. I will be okay with that. I will fail tomorrow. Someday, I will really get that diving in, and failing fast is the best way to learn, and grow and succeed. It’s been several years into this process for me so far. I don’t expect the lesson to be over anytime soon.

My wife is a teacher now. We’ve discussed seeing kids struggle with the fear of failure. Seeing them afraid to mess up. The culture has taught us backwards. Outreaching our grasp and falling is a wonderful thing. It’s the only way to find out anything about our true mettle. When we stay in our little safe world, where we always get A’s, and everyone is happy with us, we’re only tapping into a fraction of our true possibility.

For me, to have continued this far, down this path, there must be something to it. There must be something invigorating and satisfying about the struggle, or I would have given up and failed at this too… long ago.


Aaron Nichols

PS: If you’re right now enjoying the kind of life, that has no stresses from trying new things or stretching to grow yourself, disregard this whole post. You may not really want to open this Pandora’s Box, like I have. Click away, and go back to ‘normal life’.

9 thoughts on “big time crappy-butt failure, RIGHT HERE!!

  1. I love this post so much, Aaron! I fail all the time, but that is OK. It is not within me to remain stagnant and never try new things (and fail at them). Our culture does teach our children backwards, go to school, go to college, get a job…which are all great things, but a little failure mixed in there will go a long ways to teaching our children what makes them happy and to be able to find fulfillment:)

  2. hey dear nephew– You are on the right track! I think I’ve told you this before– Next spring I will celebrate 30 years in this quilt shop business- so many people ask me the secret– I must be doing everything “right” because I have sustained so long and do many other similar businesses have come & gone– In my mind it’s just the opposite- everyday I’m making mistakes and trying to figure out what to do, to try, to promote, to change. In fact when I opened I said I would not have a “Grand Opening” until I had everything exactly as I wanted it- as a result– still have not had that” Grand Opening”! You know Grandma Dorothy always said- “if you’re not making mistakes it’s because you’re not doing anything- or you’re dead!” Love ya lots!!

  3. I wished I’d have learned how to fail earlier. I’ve spent 23k learning how to fail this last year because I had hit a ceiling with what I could achieve by doing it “right”. My coach will do all manner of things including missing a premium priced session if I don’t play big enough to create a no or failure. It’s hard to learn at 48. How cool would it be if we taught kids the truth: the only way to really succeed is to get good a failure. Thanks for this post Aaron. You are one of the bravest people I know.

  4. Dear Grandson– I must be the oldest follower of your blog and I have all of
    these emotions tearing through my mind as I read each and every word. We
    know God continues to be there for you, no matter if you feel like you have “messed” up or come up with a brilliant idea. What if you had never had
    the experiences that you have shared, Been available to minister as you have
    undoubtedly done in your past “so called failed” events. It is so easy for me
    as a Mother to think how I should have guided my children, in the next breath
    I thank God to have had the opportunity to raise responsible children and then
    to have had a hand in spending time with the three of my “grands”. than I am
    so proud of. GOD is good! You are on the right track!! G’ma Nichols was a very
    smart lady!

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