How We Used Failure as a Tool

 Kay's Story:

I'm here at the Botanical Gardens and this is a really special place for me and J. It's a place where we've received a lot of spiritual, mental, and emotional healing after going through a really hard time in our life.

In 2015, J and I re-launched Teach 2 Teach, and it was a very different company than it had been in 2014. We were trying a lot of new things and sometimes when you try, you fail, and the best thing you can do is learn from that failure and we had to learn that the hard way. It was a really important lesson for us to learn. 

In January of 2015 we launched our new website, we had new slogans and all this stuff, and we wanted to make a Teach 2 Teach app. We started this in the summer of 2014 and it was just one thing after another with this company - it was just craziness. The first company we went with ended up going bankrupt and not delivering anything to us, and taking the money that we had spent so far (we were paying in installments). Then some people from that company started a second company and they said that they were going to make good on their promise to give us what we had paid for and they would do it for just the rest of the money that we owed to finish the project. 

So this one-to-two-month project stretched into six or seven months, and we were getting super frustrated, especially because it wasn't turning out how we wanted. We had spent a substantial amount of money and it was very frustrating. J was on Skype conference calls with people in California and India every day working on this app. We were trying to get it done on time, trying to get it done for the right amount of funding but they kept asking for more and more money and we were super stressed about finances and super stressed about time. We were stressed that we couldn't handle our company at the current level it was at as well as grow it. The app was holding us up because we thought that by now we would have something that would help us make Teach 2 Teach scalable and sustainable. So we felt incredibly frustrated and blocked, and there were so many interferences blocking us from where we wanted to be. 

So by March 2015, we decided to cut our losses, and it was a really good move. It was a really emotional, really difficult move, but we decided that we should try to find if there was something that already existed that we could use as our database system. We wanted to make Teach 2 Teach scalable. It was not scalable the way that it was currently but we wanted to be able to have as many teachers and as many students as we could possibly get and be able to handle them all with excellence, and we knew that this could work, we just didn't know quite how. But J had the courage to look up "tutoring software" as opposed to "music lessons software" and we found a tutoring database system that worked for us - LearnSpeed - which is what we currently use. It basically did 85% of what we were looking to do in the app that we were trying to make, for a lot less money. 

That was in March 2015, and we found out we were pregnant with Emma in May 2015 - which was amazing and incredible - but we were still struggling financially and we were still super stressed out and there were things going on in our personal lives and things going on with our community - and it was just a super stressful time. By June, J was having panic attacks and I felt like I was trying to run the business single-handedly while he was trying to move us forward, and we were just not on the same page and it was so emotionally frustrating. Our marriage was fine, our relationship was fine, but we had a hard time holding on to hope, and holding on to faith. It was not the easiest thing to do, and we really were running on fumes of hope and faith at that point in our life. 

And so, on June 12th 2015, we came to the Botanical Gardens. I knew we just needed to get out of the house that day. Both of us worked from home full-time, so that was our office, and we just needed to get out of the place where we felt blocked and just get out into nature, get into a new environment and change our state. We had come to the Botanical Gardens pretty regularly in the past to talk and just to enjoy the beauty, but on this particular day we took about a half hour apart from each other and just sat and thought and journaled. I think J wrote in his notebook, and I did some voice journaling on my phone and it was exactly what we needed.

While I was voice journaling, I looked back over the past few months and took stock, and I realized why we were feeling the way that we had been feeling. We talk about journaling in two ways: process journaling (from the past) and projection journaling (for the future). It's really important to do both, and we were able to really process and realize why are were feeling the way we were feeling. 

It felt like we had failed with this whole app thing, and it's hard to try new things and fail. We learned that sometimes you just have to go through something and learn lessons from going through it. It's not always that there's a better result you're going to achieve by going through something difficult, sometimes it's that I grew as a person - and we both really, really grew as people during this time. We learned a lot of lessons, and I'm going to interview Jay and ask him a few questions about what we learned during that time and he's going to share all the lessons that we learned through failure. 

Every really important leader and teacher will tell you that you learn more from failure than you learn from success, and that is so true; but the way that you learn is by thinking through, journaling, realizing what you have learned and how you've grown. It's not just failing, it's learning from your failures.

We found a lot of healing in nature and through journaling, and maybe that will help you if you're going through a hard time right now. If you're feeling like a failure, try journaling, try getting outside, changing your state, getting in a different environment - it can really make a difference.

Now J and I accept and embrace failure. We accept and embrace risk and trying new things, as long as we do it with as much wisdom as we have in that moment, and we're trying our very best. We know that through failure or success we will learn, and as long as you have a learning heart, one that's willing to be adaptable, then you're going to succeed. You're going to overcome the challenges that you face and you're going to get where you want to be. 

So after June 12th we decided to come regularly to the Botanical Gardens. We set aside Fridays to just come here and be at peace and journal and meditate and reflect and figure out where we were, not just with the business but also personally. If you're not being who you need to be as a person, then you're not going to succeed in the other areas of your life: your relationships, your business, your community, your church. So it's important to understand who you are, who you want to be, where you are in life, and how you're growing as a person. 

So we came and reflected on our own life and on our business, and it brought so much healing and so much growth that year - it was amazing how much we grew from January to December of 2015. 


Questions for J:

1) What was the biggest lesson I learned from failing with our Teach 2 Teach app? 

All the great entrepreneur books and videos teach about the importance of failing. The biggest lesson that I learned is to research. We made a beginner's mistake trying to build our own app rather than just looking for an app that was already out there. We just didn't do our full research.

2) How did I feel during the difficult time we went through?

In a word, I felt defeated. I really felt defeated during that time. There's not a lot of times in my life where I feel really, really depressed, and I felt depressed, and it was because I felt like I really tried my hardest and gave it my all and still failed. 

3) What brought me out of that time of depression? 

To keep it to one word again, I think it was hope. I really am the kind of person that needs to find a practical solution. Most men are this way I think, you need to find a solution before you can feel better. So I found a solution that really worked for our business and I could just look forward, and that was a really good thing for us. 

4) What area of life did I find the most personal growth after that time? 

I would say that it was time management. We got much better at being organized and efficient with our time.

5) What tips can I give to you guys about journaling? 

Experiment with different kinds of journaling. We did written journaling, audio journaling, video journaling. All different kinds of journaling in all different environments can really help give you different experiences and can help you to work out your problems in different ways. Try to journal by yourself, try journaling with others - we would have a lot of conversations and ask each other a lot of questions. 

6) What about going to the Botanical Gardens really has been most beneficial to me? 

I think being out in nature and being out in beauty is one of the biggest solutions to depression of any kind. I would recommend to you to get out in nature if you are at all depressed about anything. It's basically the solution, it gives you hope and gives you clarity of mind and it is just so helpful. I can highly recommend it.


So thanks guys for listening to our story. Let us know in the comments below what failures you've experienced in your life and how you've learned and grown from them. And if you think this video or blog would make a difference in someone's life, feel free to share it with them as well.