One of the last jobs I ran as an electrical foreman, I met a man I’ll never forget. The general contractor’s superintendent: Greg Wiseman.
He was an amazing guy, super smart (true to his last name), and he kinda looked like the Marlboro man except he didn’t smoke. One day we were talking and he told me that he played Minor League Baseball for seven years. I was shocked – he just seemed like an average dude. Excited to learn that fact, I asked him what it was like to play professional baseball. I’ll never forget his response:
“It was awful,” he said, “I wish I could erase those seven years from my memory.”
It wasn’t quite the response I was expecting.
Obviously, minor league can be a struggle – the travel, the low salary, and competing against hundreds of other professionals with the same dream. But Greg’s reasoning was a little different.
Ever since tee-ball, Greg excelled at the game. In little league, he was unstoppable. In high school he travelled across the country with a travel team. In college, he went to the College World Series. He had only ever been “the man” and succeeded wherever he went. But when he got to the minors, he couldn’t catch up. He couldn’t throw hard enough, he couldn’t swing fast enough, he was too small. And for the first time in his life, Greg was failing at the game of baseball.
My story is similar. When I was an electrical foreman, I never failed an inspection – wall inspection, ceiling inspection, etc. Every connector was in its right spot, every box was covered and I was meticulous.
When I started Empowered Electric, I had the same attitude – I would perfect everything so that failure wouldn’t be an option. I thought, “Empowered Electric will be the only contractor that never fails an inspection.” In that pursuit, we succeeded . . . for about five weeks. And I didn’t know how to deal with it. I called a mentor and let him know I failed an inspection and that it wouldn’t happen again. His response?
“Of course you will fail again, Josh,” he said, “if you aren’t failing then you aren’t pushing hard enough.”
My conversation with him was eye-opening.
When you operate out of fear of failure, it will stymie growth – it will hinder your opportunities for growth. And when you fail, you need to be willing to make it right. Often, that means listening to the help of others. Correct things when it’s first pointed out.
If you are pursuing growth and excellence, then It’s OK to accept failure. And it’s important to have people call you out when you do slip up. But you will only fail your way forward when you’re ready to make it right. Going back to baseball: It doesn’t matter how many games you lose in the regular season.
As long as you learn from them and win the World Series.