We’re all familiar with the rags-to riches story – the taxi driver who after years became one of the most influential business leaders or the varsity dropout-turned-software giant. And while many of these stories are inspirational and leave you asking yourself: if he/she could do it, why can’t I, they’re often far from easy.
With the odds firmly stacked against her, Mummy Mthembu-Fawkes’s tenacity, drive and courage is what turned her days of adversity into success. The 34-year-old entrepreneur, industry pioneer and business speaker’s first mobile business attempt failed. And although failed business ventures are nothing unusual, Mthembu-Fawkes had worked hard to better hers and her baby sister’s life after the tragic loss of her mother and brother. Despite her driven nature, she still lost everything, and was left with nothing. On what the driving factors were that kept her going after losing her family, Mummy says she knew she had to take care of her sister,.
“She was all I had left and was very young and needed me to be stronger. I was a teenager when we lost our mom. I had to work on my thought process. I had to learn to control my thoughts and stop feeling sorry for myself, she says.
I accepted that I had to grow up and take responsibility – someone else’s future was at stake and so was mine. My mindset changed from pity party to get on with it.” Speaking on the unfortunate ordeal of business failing, she says: “It was embarrassing, I was depressed and disappointed in myself, I had worked so hard to get to where I was and had promised my sister a better life, only to lose it all.” Mummy says it was obvious that she was struggling, in an attempt for better outcomes, she poured more and more money into a failing venture.
Eventually the business completely collapsed and her money was depleted; the house was taken along with the furniture. “I was in so much debt, I lost it all and the car was the final thing that needed to go – I was emotionally, financially, physically exhausted and drained. I felt so lost and was crippled by what I thought people were saying about me. I grew up in poverty but managed to work my way out of it, then found myself back where I had started. The new start was worse, poverty was no longer the only issue,” she says. Her friends, family, neighbors and former colleagues all knew she was down and out – she was exposed. Until she finally decided to surrender the car as well, an act she describes as ‘the most freeing thing I’ve ever done’. She says she woke up one day and decided it was time to change the script. “I said little mantras like: It’s not over yet, you’re the smartest person I know, you still have an opportunity to rewrite your story.
The more she said these mantras to herself the more she started to believe them. “I started over and faced the world again, I went back into the corporate world and started over I took what I was able to get – a humbling experience which helped me get to where I am today, I became obsessed with learning everything I could and focused on strategic thinking and business development.” How can one reach their goals despite challenges that could potentially hold them back: Don’t think that your current situation is permanent Circumstances.1=-P09 change. Your business venture may have failed, your confidence might be a bit low, you might be struggling with your finances or something even bigger; the only real constant is change and if changing your situation is hard you can at the very least change yourself as far as possible. Harness your potential As human beings, we’re all born with innate abilities and those unique skills are vital building blocks for achieving our greatness. This requires asking important questions of yourself: Who do you want to be, what do you want to achieve in life, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind and how do you want to make a difference? Once you honestly answer these questions, you could gain a clear vision of who you want to become, you start internalising your vision and most importantly – you start believing it.
Following your instincts The most common mistake I made was to run my first business based on what was theoretically correct, based on what I read and how I operated in the corporate world. It’s important to not always imitate what others are doing, the world is changing so rapidly it’s vital to think bigger.Using other people’s formula and following too many rules can keep one from being innovative I have learned that to make it in todays business world a huge part of entrepreneurship requires the ability to be street smart. With my current business, my decisions and strategy were 10% skill, and 90% street smarts, instinct/gut feel and what I knew what was missing in the market. I believed in my own vision and capabilities and it worked.
Rebuilding herself, and dealing with the naysayers Losing everything from her business, possessions, respect from others, pride and ego – she was finally free. “I was free to start over, everyone knew my business anyway and I had also lost the most important people in my life, so the need to please people or pretend to be someone else was completely gone.” This as a result, made her no longer fear what others were saying or loosing them. “I had permanently lost the most important people in my life.
I didn’t care if I was liked or not (I still don’t) and this gave me space to think creatively.” Losing it at all can be freeing “Because I lost it all I am free to dream, I am free to dare, I am free to think of ideas and turn them into reality. I’m free to feel fear and still do it anyway as fear is just an old friend. I am free to be me, I’m free to believe that I can be whatever I choose to be. I am grateful for all my losses no matter how painful they may have been
because in them there is collateral beauty.
I have been an underdog all my life and in that lies my super power.” Speak positivity Not only do negative thoughts make you anxious and unhappy, they also affect the way you view and experience life.
Changing my thoughts from negative to positive always has a profound impact on my life and even my business. When I’m miserable and have negative thoughts I find it hard to think creatively and find solutions because each problem looks bigger than what it actually is. I have had to understand that I have to change my language.
Every word you utter changes your life. I’ve learned to stop talking about how bad a situation is and rather focus energy on what needs to be done about it. Lessons learnt Failure is an inevitable part of the journey for many entrepreneurs. Even powerhouses like Steve Jobs and Oprah have had their fair share of failures.
The reality is that for every success story, there are several businesses that don’t make it. Entrepreneurship is difficult, there will be tears, sweat and many downs. Failure is a part of the entrepreneurial journey, but what’s important is that one uses it as an important learning tool, follow your instincts and never give up. For more information contact Unique Speaker Bureau