The Certainty of Adversity on the Road to Success
By Lee Hecht Harrison on September 28, 2015
Back in 2004 when KIND healthy snacks was just getting started, CEO Daniel Lubetzky realized he had a problem for which there was no immediate solution.
Lubetzky had helped formulate a small line of extremely high-quality, nutritious snack bars. They were, at the time, unique products and retailers were skeptical that there was a market. In fact, at the outset, nobody knew exactly where to put KIND bars in supermarkets and convenience stores.
Were they candy bars? Should they be in the health food aisle? The uncertainty about where to sell KIND bars stunted growth of the company, and nearly threatened its continued existence.
But then, there was a breakthrough. KIND worked with retailers to convince them “that our products filled a need consumers didn’t even now they had.
“Eventually, we helped pioneer a whole ‘healthy snack bar’ section within the grocery area, but that didn’t happen overnight.”
Lubetzky’s story is not unprecedented, but it remains unique. There are far many more stories of promising companies that faced early adversity, experienced setbacks and eventually folded. Companies that expected early success that did not materialize, and allowed their disappointment to quash their enthusiasm.
The underlying lesson in the KIND bar story is pretty clear: adversity is not the exception, it is the rule in almost all aspects of business. If you accept that fundamental truth, then you must also accept that success is almost always the by-product of determination. And that a setback is a temporary state, not a permanent condition.
It may seem like an overly simplistic idea, but all of us have to be prepared for some failure in our lives. Very few people have ever known nothing but success; even the world’s most successful business leaders often tasted failure long before they became rich, powerful and famous. Some have toggled between success and failure their entire lives.
What does this mean to an average worker? In this day and age, when there seems to be no room for failure or mistakes, we must allow ourselves some setbacks. Do not give in to the idea that not getting that promotion or losing a job, is a permanent state. Know that this setback is temporary.
More importantly, remember that true success comes from taking some risk, and that almost certainly implies a chance that things won’t work out. That is not, however, a sign that you won’t succeed again in the future.
Best-selling author and leadership guru John Maxwell said it best: “The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.”
Go forth. Make a few mistakes. Learn and use that knowledge to realize success.
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