Rotten Milk

The Case for Failure

By Tammy Hawk–Bridges

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid, and I didn’t realize growing up that my papa was giving me some of the best business advice I’d ever receive. The impact of his words in my life and in my business today is huge.

One of the stories he told me was about rotten milk.

“Pammy, if you leave the milk out on the counter it will go rotten. If you stick it back in the icebox after it goes rotten, it will get cold, but it’s still rotten.” (Papa called me Pammy, but that’s a story for another day.)

I remember distinctly at the age of 33, when the significance of this hit me for the first time. Hearing Papa say this in my head helped me decide it was time to leave my current job and move on.

Wow, my papa was so smart.

If you’re going to be a successful business owner, you must possess the ability to spot a mistake, learn your lesson from it and not do it again.

I’m an advocate for failing because some of the best business lessons I’ve learned were from failure. One of my favorite things to say is “fail well.” I’m a true believer that someone who can pick themselves up right after a hard knock without being a whiny bag and go right back into the pit is capable of greatness.

However, I’ve had a front row seat on more than one occasion for watching an entrepreneur repeat the same bad behavior and actually expect a different outcome.

“We can’t repeat the same bad behaviors in our lives and in our businesses and expect a different outcome,” Papa says.

If your goal is a profitable business, you must create the habits and strategies that provide the results you need for the long haul.

Here are a few examples of rotten milk:

Avoidance. Doing busy work to avoid what really needs to be done actually creates a false sense of accomplishment that prevents us from having growth in our businesses or our personal lives.

Toxic relationships. Do you have a business partner that continues to disappoint you? Maybe a friend that is always negative? Do you make excuses for these people to keep them around, just so you don’t have to deal with finding a real solution?

Investments based on short-term thinking. Have you purchased something in your business just because it was the cheapest or even the easiest choice? In the long run how much did it end up costing you? Or do you keep doing or using something because it cost you money when deep down you know it’s the wrong solution? Do you realize it’s costing you more and more every day?

Bad clients. Do you do business with people you know are not your ideal client because it’s a quick buck? Did you consider the consequences? Sure you got the money on the front end that you needed, but at what cost?

Denial. Knowing the business is not working and continuing just because you can’t face failure or don’t know what else to do. Do you even look at how much your business is making from month to month? Are you afraid that if you do, your dream will be taken away?

We cannot repeat the same bad behaviors in our lives and in our businesses and expect a different outcome. And we simply cannot knowingly use solutions that only temporarily mask a problem.

Remember, you can put the rotten milk back in the fridge, and it will get cold. But it’s still rotten.

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