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10 Hidden Blessings in Rejection, Losing, & Failure

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Rejection. Losing. Failure.

Nobody strives for them. No athlete sets out to lose, no entrepreneur’s goal is bankruptcy.

But as if an act of divine mercy, there’s positives to be found in the negatives. In fact, it’s almost gospel the extent we hear successful people preaching the value in failing and lessons in losing.

Many are familiar with Michael Jordan’s quote, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Denis Waitley said it well, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

Indeed, the mark of a successful person lies in their response to negative situations—in licking their wounds they never leave the battlefield, they turn their scars into strengths.

In approaching rejection, losing, and failure, here are 10 hidden blessings:

1. You’ll Clarify Your Passions.

Many of us struggle with decision making. Folks with creative energy typically have their hand in multiple pies. But even a jack-of-all-trades knows there’s a limit to how thin you can spread yourself.

Often, failure and losing result from diminished passion. You realise you weren’t as passionate about that project as first thought. The pruning effect is a positive. As you clear your plate a little, the things that are left are what really gets you excited, and you direct your energy toward them. Focused energy is when you’re most effective, failure gets rid of fluff.

2. You’ll Uncover New Skills.

Remember when George Bush nimbly dodged that shoe destined for his head? Nobody thought he had the skill to do that. And I suspect neither did he. Until that moment.

Facing challenges and enduring a loss causes us to gather up resources and develop skills beyond our arsenal. In cases of “hysterical strength,” where folks lift vehicles off someone trapped, it’s the negative situation that produces the surge of adrenaline and an act beyond one’s capability.

Negative experiences cause us to respond in ways beyond what we thought possible. The obstacle beckons to be overcome. In order to rise to the occasion, there needs to be an occasion.

3. You’ll Find Out Who Your Friends Are.

Take a spill and you’ll see who emerges out of the Facebook crowd to lift you up. Sure, everyone’s busy, but we make time for the things we value and care about. “I’m too busy” can be translated, “It’s not that important.”

Relationships are key in all areas of life. And they take a lot of work, a lot of time invested. You certainly don’t want to be investing in bad stock. Of course friendships aren’t to be boiled down to a shallow transaction, but unfortunately, some folks see them that way—a lot of taking without any giving. It’s these relationships that need severing. There’s no honour, or sense, in helping others when you’re hurting yourself.

Hitting rock bottom has a way of uncovering the healthy genuine relationships from the detrimental. You’ll want to keep investing in those who are nursing your wounds, and distancing yourself from the silent and nowhere to be seen.

4. You’ll Check Your Blind Spots.

It only takes one accident for a driver never to forget checking their blind spot again. A harsh way to learn, but some changes in behaviour only happen with such shocks to the system.

While there are habits and skills we haven’t yet acquired, failures remind us of habits and skills we do possess, but simply lazy in implementing. After suffering a robbery, you’ll never forget to lock the screen door again.

5. You’ll Burn Away Pride and Arrogance.

Nobody is immune to pride and arrogance. To say you’re beyond pride and arrogance is a little…well…prideful and arrogant. Losing is the glass of water for that bitter pill of pride. But that unpleasant process gives birth to humility. Which is perhaps the most attractive and profitable virtue anyone can possess.

As the well known proverb goes, pride goeth before the fall; rejection and loss exchanges pride for humility, and may be the saviour that prevents your fall.

6. You’ll Grow Elephant Skin.

The shins of Muay Thai fighters can break baseball bats. The micro-fractures from hours upon hours of kicking heavy bags are filled with calcium, resulting in abnormal bone density. It’s just as muscle fibres grow as a result of micro-tears in the gym.

The old adage rings true, it’s the pain that brings the gain. The healing of a fracture carries a gift. 101-advice for anyone stepping out to pursue their dream is prepare for rejection, criticism and haters. And with each punch thrown your way, you’ll realise that you can’t please everyone, and the impact will start to soften. You’ll even learn to bob and weave, realizing the issue lies more with them than with you.

 7. You’ll Never Wonder “What If?” Again.

The question of “what if?” can cause hours on end staring out the window. When that curiosity is pursued only to find you’ve boarded the wrong plane, failure is the blessing that pulls you right off. You’ll no longer be kept up at night wondering about that other option.

Curiosity can cripple our consciousness and distracts from the work we should be doing. But sometimes engaging your own nagging is the only way to silence it.

Seeing his father drink beer, a teenage Tony Robbins begged his mother to let him try. Not only did she let him try, she gave him a whole 6-pack, and wouldn’t let him leave until he drank every drop. Tony has never touched alcohol since. The taste of his own vomit may have something to do with that.

8. You’ll Finally Ask For Help.

Anyone with passion and ambition is tragically plagued with superhero-syndrome, which is both helpful, and harmful; particularly when the candle is burning at both ends, and you’re drifting toward burnout.

When the word “help” disappears from our vocabulary, it’s found when we crash and burn. We realise the skill of delegation is critical for our health and progress. We need to move away from viewing help negatively as a form of weakness, to positively—that our success is growing beyond our own capacity.

9. You’ll Go To The Drawing Board.

And you’ll engage in iteration. The process of reevaluating and refining, which produces a better end-result. As the saying goes, Why fix it if it ain’t broke? Some things need fixing, but reevaluation doesn’t happen if something doesn’t break.

No doubt one of the greatest human achievements: 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. The only individual in the world to accomplish that feat—64-year old Diana Nyad. She was on her fifth attempt, her first attempt back in 1978, and three other attempts from 2011 – 2012.

One major reason her last attempt was cut short was jellyfish stings that left her face face puffy and swollen. This time, she wore a full bodysuit, gloves, and a mask at night—when jellyfish rise to the surface.

She failed, went back to the drawing board, made iterations, and succeeded.

10. You’ll Appreciate Your Success.

Value and meaning become heightened in the face of difficulty. The greatest celebrations come from the toughest battles. You’ll realise the dream isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. And when the journey includes getting back on your feet and dusting yourself off, you’ll be more inclined to stop when you see roses, and express a little more gratitude and appreciation at the finish line.

Among the 14 “Eight-Thousanders” on earth, few recognise Kangchenjunga—while Everest is a household name. There’s only 262 meters separating the two mountains, but it’s the failures and deaths on Everest that make it the most respected and celebrated climb.

The bitterness of every failure adds sweetness to every victory.

Callum Connects

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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