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Melting The Thinking Mind

By Charlie Badenhop

Do you ever find that your level of self confidence tends to go up and down like the stock market? Or perhaps it even goes up and down along with the stock market! Here is a story about a Japanese businessman that might give you a new perspective.

I recently heard from a friend, about a Japanese business man that has created a highly successful business with hundreds of stores throughout the country. At first I thought my friend was going to be telling me about the "how to" of business success, but instead the story took quite a different path than I was expecting. What follows is my version of an inspiring story.

The man in my story had actually failed at numerous businesses over the years. He started out with a large and successful family business, but he ran that business into the ground and eventually went bankrupt. After his bankruptcy he said, "Even though my business had failed, I did not feel like I had failed. I still had confidence in myself. I still knew that I could do something good. I didn't try to figure out all the details of what I had done right or wrong, I didn't try to understand whether I was a good business man or a bad business man. I just continued to believe in myself, and the vision that I had."

After his bankruptcy he searched around and managed to borrow some money for a new business. In a reasonably short amount of time he ran this business into bankruptcy as well. Afterwards he said, "Even more so now, I still had confidence in myself. I had seen some flashes of brilliance, and I knew that I could do something good. Once again, I didn't try to figure out right or wrong, good or bad, I only concentrated on how I could borrow more money and start all over again."

So, he manages to borrow some more money, and starts another business, and of course this business also goes bankrupt, or I wouldn't be telling this story! After his third bankruptcy he said "I knew I was getting closer to getting it right." What a fantastic spirit this guy has! He has huge confidence in the face of big time short term failure.

Back out on the streets he went, and this time he only managed to borrow a rather small sum of money. Not being able to start a "real" business with such a limited amount of cash, he rented a small Japanese pick-up truck. (The small ones are REALLY small. Sort of like a bonsai version of an American pick-up truck). With little money to spend he shopped around in various wholesale markets and wound up deciding to only buy things that he could sell cheaply with no seeming connection to the various products, except that they were inexpensive and of reasonable quality. He loaded his goods into the back of his tiny pick-up truck and parked illegally on a busy street where he hawked his wares to the passersby, and the launch of a new retail phenomena had begun. Over time he parleyed the success he had with his one tiny truck, into a chain of highly successful stores.

When asked to what he attributed his success, he replied "Believing in myself, and not picking apart all of my pluses and minuses." He said, "Right from the beginning I knew that I could be successful. When I failed the first time I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands since I no longer had a business to run. I figured that I basically had two choices in regard to what to do with my time: 1. Do a lot of thinking about what went wrong and try to correct my many mistakes in the future. Or: 2. Take the time to relax and gain a new perspective on life. I of course chose the latter. From a relaxed state I was able to understand things that I was not able to understand when I was running around trying to be successful. I knew that dissecting what I had done right and wrong would eat up a lot of time and energy, and most likely not give me the formula for success. I knew that the formula for success was already inside of me, and that my job was to find a way to allow this formula to be expressed. I didn't try to understand what to do, I tried to get myself to the point where I was already doing what I needed to do."

To me this story offers a great deal of inspiration. Continuing to believe in myself regardless of the challenges to be faced, is a gift that I have often struggled to give myself. It is wonderful to be presented with such a fine example to learn from. The faith this man has in himself can be a gift to all of us. And at the same time I can't help but chuckle when thinking what a business consultant might say about this man's method for conducting business.

This story also reminds me of an article I read in a business magazine a number of years ago. The story told of the careers of a number of highly successful business people, all of whom had "failed" at least three or four times along the way. Each person in their own words said the following "I could not be the success I am today, had it not been for all of my previous failures!"

Do you have some "failures" in your life that possess the seeds of future success? I am guessing that we all do.

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