Learn From Your Own Mistakes (written January, 2001)

Each of you deserve the ultimate in success for both: your health and your wealth. You deserve it! I heard a saying recently, “A smart man learns from his own mistakes, a genius learns from others mistakes, dummies never learn”. Though I didn’t create this saying, I think its meaning is important. Everybody makes mistakes in life and in our industry. Learning from these past mistakes is what I believe separates successful people and people who never succeed. Failing at something the first time out, the first few times out is nothing to be ashamed of. Show me the person that succeeds the first time at something and I will show you a billion people who failed the first time at something. In fact when I start a project now I expect to fail at the first few attempts before I succeed at it. Case and point….

I just started working with the Internet. I used to just create my brochures in Microsoft Word and give it to an Internet “Expert” and pay him to convert it from Word to “html”, the universal computer language. Well as I analyzed my expenses for the year, I noticed I was paying him a little more than I really wanted to so instead of complaining, instead of pointing the finger, instead of jumping to conclusions, I started asking questions. Questions like, “what the heck is html?” “How can I apply it.” Etc. I found the answers to be very simple. Go buy a program called Microsoft FrontPage and learn to use it. Then you can create your own web pages, links,   etc., as well as create or convert documents into “html.” Amazing! It took me three months, a lot of aggravation and disappointment and a lot of extra hours of work to learn this so called simple software. I also made mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake in its application. My point? Though I was led to believe it was going to be easy, learning to build my own web pages was a lot more difficult and a lot more challenging then I was led to believe. I also made a tremendous amount of mistakes but because I realized before hand, making mistakes is how I would learn the program, I was able to eliminate my so called, “Internet Expert” fees. I embraced the mistakes I made and today, I can easily create my own web pages and am learning more and more everyday about “html” and FrontPage. Visit my Website and you’ll see what I mean.

Here is another personal example. When I first graduated college back in the “day”, I thought I was ready for anything. I just spent 4 years at a decent university and now I was ready. I bought a couple of beautiful pin striped suits, (my girlfriend at the time was so into fashion, it was sinful), and I was eager and as far as I was concerned, ready for anything! 4 months later, 65 interviews and rejections later, 32 train rides into the city later, guess what I had – zero! Nothing to show for it! 22 years old, a failure! So I thought. Then one night I was watching late night TV and saw one of these motivational speakers, who were trying to sell their course, but they said one thing in the infomercial about writing down the mistakes you thought you made and then correcting them for next time. Ahh!  I wrote down the mistakes I thought I made in the interviews. Then on the subsequent interviews, I would work hard and concentrate on not making the same mistake again. Because I noticed a pattern, it seemed like the same questions would come up and unfortunately it seemed some of my answers were not to the future employers liking – ahh – wouldn’t you know it? 5 more interviews later, I landed my first prestigious job and was making a whopping $15,000 a year. 4 years of College, 5 months of failed interviews and I was only making $15,000 to start. You can probably figure out why I am in my own business today? However that is another story for another time, but my point is that from all the mistakes I was making in these interviews, I finally started analyzing them and developed a good interviewee strategy and landed a decent job.

Most of the time, in order to succeed at something, you need to fail at it first. Mail Order/MLM is no different. In our country and especially in this industry, we all put so much admiration into the successful MLMer’s, so called heavy hitters and are embarrassed that we have failed. Why? I guarantee every one of these alleged heavy hitters have failed a lot more times than you have. I failed miserably at my first attempt at mail order when I was 19 years old. Then it took me 3 years and 2 months before I was able to parlay this business of mine into a full time business! A total failure and then another 3 years plus to be able to sit here today and tell you it is worth it! What is great about America is no matter how many times you fail at something, you always have a golden opportunity to become a “rags-to-riches” story basically overnight, even if you put years of frustration into your business. So you joined a couple of MLM’s and failed. So you gave it a year or so and you have failed at MLM. So you tried to work with people in this business and failed. Life’s not over my friends. Learn from these past failures. Do what I did and write down the mistakes you believe you made and then write down a way to overcome these mistakes in the future. Then try again and again and again. Never give up – you will succeed!

Guys! I am living proof of making many mistakes in my Mail Order/MLM lifetime – from being offensive to people asking simple questions to working with very unreasonable people. Even to this day, I write down all my errors, all my mistakes every day of my life. Why? Instead of thinking of success and failure as opposites, I look at my daily mistakes – my daily failures as leading to something bigger and better later on. I look at both as part of the same process. The process of learning from my own mistakes. Make this year your year! It is never too late to start. Learn from my mistakes and be a genius. Learn from your own mistakes and be very smart. Never learn? Do I need to say more?

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.