Whether you're an entrepreneur or a professional, to create confidence that breaks the mold and emboldens you to pursue greatness, you must embrace the failures and lessons along the way and just do what moves you forward.
Ono Northey, author of the 3-book series, The Shard Chronicles, discusses his journey as an author. He opens up and shares his experiences as an entrepreneur and sensei operating a dojo, Shinka, at a young age as well. His journey has been filled with impactful lessons that continue to shape his identity, work ethics, and habits today. Whether you are a creative or not, Ono's interview highlights a journey that has embraced failures, and beautifully reflects how an identity aligned with your truest self contributes to what you are moving towards.
In the personal development and growth space you have heard of the concept of failing forward. Even within the business communities you have been told about the valuable lessons learned from failed attempts by all of the greats. In reality, it never seems to feel great when you are going through the pain and sometimes public embarrassment of failure. Yet, you must own it and embrace it, and do so positively.
Ono shares about the failures he's experienced writing the first book of the Shard Chronicles, Awakening. His humor is inspiring and honestly refreshing as he talks about how badly written his first book was. In his blog post, How to Write a Novel, Ono says, "write a shitty book. seriously, just do it." (I highly recommend you read this blog and the several others he's written while you are there, hilarious but honest) In Ono's book failure there are a couple of things going on. First, the discovery of all the things he did not know. Admittedly, he was not familiar with the industry standards or which genre his story belonged to. Secondly, and most notably, was his willingness to be inspired, get started, get it done, and learn along the way from all the failures that came with the territory. This reminds me greatly of a dear friend, that has the confidence to jump out of the plane and build his parachute in the air (sorry, Nathan, that is still too crazy for me, but I love your commitment).
Ono's approach probably scares the heck out of many of us. Too often the fear of rejection and not being overly prepared and armed with every possible scenario holds professionals and entrepreneurs back from seeing progress, let alone building momentum. Yet, Ono is on his third book in the Shard Chronicles series.
In all fairness, I want to acknowledge there are different types or levels of failures. Failure committed to yourself that only you know about can be like a dirty little secret if you are not careful in how you handle it. Public or open failure that everyone at work knows about, or the members of your community see happen in real time, can hit you a bit differently. I believe all failure has power to be harnessed, but how you wrangle that energy determines if it will energize your efforts or take you down. As Jeremy Bloom puts it in his article, This Is What It Means to Embrace Failure, "If admitting failure makes you uncomfortable, actually embracing it can be nearly impossible. We learn from an early age that failure is bad."
In Ono's case, yes failure presents a lesson and an opportunity to improve. I also see that not fearing failure gives him the permission and freedom to pursue what inspires him relentlessly. There is a pursuit of "mastery through action rather than research," as Ono explains it. How many of you reading this have been caught in the research phase of a new business idea or a new direction you want to take your career? One of Tom Bilyeu's principles is that action cures all.
"Pursue mastery through action rather than research" -Ono Northey
If there is one gift I could give to you (and myself) it would be to fearlessly pursue your biggest dream without fear of failure, but with the joy of embracing failure knowing that something amazing is always on the other side of failure.
Barbara Corcoran, the infamous TV personality and investor from one of the only shows I would actually watch, Shark Tank, lays out how failing often and failing terribly has led to her success. In her Ted talk from 2013 she says, "all of my singular phenomenal successes that helped me build my businesses happened on the heals of failure."
Her failed relationship gave her the $1000 to start her business. Her failed speaking attempt to an audience of 300 city bankers led to her teaching real estate where things happened that set her in motion to become the Barbara we meet on Shark Tank. Her tips were too good to not share with you, so here they are:
Failure and innovation are kissing cousins (there's a slight perspective shift)
Reward efforts more than results (enjoy the process and journey you are on)
Make a public spectacle of your failures (they lose power over you and you regain control)
Fail well and take less time feeling sorry for yourself (pity parties are ok if you must, but you have to cut it short and move on)
"all of my singular phenomenal successes that helped me build my businesses happened on the heals of failure." -Barbara Corcoran
Identity of Success
As creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs, your identity is tied to your values and habits. There needs to be an alignment between your values, your habits, and your ultimate goal to assume the identity of success.
Ono is in the habit of seeking feedback as a source of improvement. His driving question, "how can I make it better" propels him towards what motivates him and leads to his bigger dream. This question also carries him through the failures he experiences. When his dojo, Shinka, failed as a business the hard lessons learned didn't just shape Ono's identity as an entrepreneur, it ultimately shaped his personal identity.
Going through failures and challenges forces you to examine your motives and values. Ono shared his magic system of priorities with us from the Shard Chronicles, C3GUS: certainty, connection, contribution, growth, uncertainty, and significance. There was a time when Ono admits he prioritized (or valued) significance above contribution. His identity at that time was wrapped in wanting to be the one credited for helping because his significance was higher on the list of values. Later with time, and growth from more failures, feedback and brutally honest conversations, Ono came around to prioritizing contribution over significance.
Shifting your values and how you prioritize those values effects your choices and daily habits. Need I emphasize the importance of habits here? Aristotle is credited with saying, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Bruce Lee (one of my favorite philosophers no matter what you think) says, "what you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become." Whether it's Ono's connection to the martial arts, or his fondness for Tom Bilyeu's ideology, for certain he also believes that you are what you habitually do, so develop the habits to get where you want to be. In essence develop the identity of success through habits, values and priorities aligned with your true self.
"Understand with absolute clarity who you are and what your motivations are because you will always be working to satisfy those needs …know what you are moving towards consciously and unconsciously" -Ono Northey
Ono TIPS for Creatives and Entrepreneurs:
For the creative writer - Have at least 3 beta readers on a spectrum - start with who you think would like it the least and gradually work up to who would like it the most.
Marketing your service and brand is easier if you think you’re helping others.
Being authentic and helping others from a place of love try to lead with the powerful question, "Are you looking for advice?" Make sure your advice and critiques are welcome and properly received.
Have rules of engagement and boundaries on social media so that your feed reflects the positivity you want to see in the world.
Take Martial Arts - learn to be comfortable with failure
“If it doesn’t fit into a mold, that’s fine I can make a new mold” Be okay with not knowing and creating something uniquely your own.
Challenge yourself to write out "Everything I Know Challenge" At year end, spend some time reflecting and just write out everything you know to that point.
Ono Northey is a Canada based author, loving father and husband. His blunt approach comes from a source of integrity, honesty and authenticity that may not land as gracefully but is always given in love. He is certain of who he is, what he wants and his habits and work ethic speak to that.
Part 1 of the Shard Chronicles
Angry, amputated, and accused of treason, ex-Commander Steve Jang is having a hell of a year, and things only get worse when mysterious assassins come to kill him for what he's seen! Is magic actually real? Is Steve losing his mind? Or is it both? Full of high-intensity scenes, rich character development, and witty, engaging dialogue, Awakening is book one in the action-packed, thought-provoking urban fantasy series: The Shard Chronicles.
Buy book one today and find out what sorts of madness Steve can resist, and which kinds he'll need to embrace to survive! You can also download a free preview here