Over the long holiday weekend, we broke out the classic Wizard of Oz for a family movie night. What a completely different perspective you have watching that movie as an adult. The Wizard was nothing but an illusion and Dorothy had the power within her all along to go home, she just had to believe in herself (and go through a musical self-discovery along the way). One quote really stuck out to me: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Pretty similar to how we think about business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s all pretty and shiny on the outside, like tech apps that are being valued for billions of dollars, but produce no revenue, or the celebrity culture of all beauty and no substance. Nobody wants to talk about what is going on behind the curtain, behind the scenes.
But, let me tell you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, behind the curtain of a new office building, top national rankings, and a dynamic brand, it’s one hot mess. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Appearances can be freaking deceiving. When I’m up on stage receiving an award for our company’s success or asked to teach a class on business building, I often feel like a fraud. Sure, I’ve had some success and I’m incredibly proud of my team and how far we’ve come, but it is a shit-show behind the scenes. When I’m speaking about living a life without limits I make it a point to pull back the curtain and share the failures and struggles we have had. We are no different than anyone else. I am not smarter, faster, better looking, more innovative, or more business savvy than anyone else. There is no secret sauce to success. It’s work. Hard work. And hustle, and grind, and late nights, and a whole lot of messes, and lawsuits, and more work. What does give me an edge, though, is my refusal to give up and my ability to keep pushing through the mess and make it work. That, anyone can do.
The Wizard put on a good show. And don’t get me wrong, things are supposed to look good on the outside – it’s how businesses continue to attract talent, make sales, increase the bottom line, and basically have a business. But you’ve got to remember that behind the scenes shit gets messy. No one who has accomplished anything of significance has it easy. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to just believe that successful people were handed things, because really, who wants to hear that it requires a lot of work over a lot of years? It’s the hard work and the mess that no one really wants to talk about… but it’s actually the mess that means the most.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
- The mess might be employees leaving – but that just means the ones who stay are loyal and can handle helping you build a massive business.
- The mess might be customer complaints – but that just means that you need to double-down on your systems and streamline your customer intake process. In the end, better for your team, and better for your customers.
- The mess might be restructuring your organization for the 11th (or 53rd) time – but each iteration is getting you one step closer to the model that will give you the geometric growth that you are looking for.
Take the time to grind through the mess and refine NOW, and in 3 years you’ll have a well-oiled machine cranking for you. That is what no one wants to see or talk about. Success takes time!
But you can’t be afraid to pull back the curtain on other businesses and most importantly your own. I say, you should pay a whole lot of attention to the man behind the curtain; that’s where the biggest lessons for success (by learning from failures) can be found. You should want to see and hear the truth. Maybe you decide it’s not for you after all and that’s okay. But maybe, just maybe, seeing the truth of what needs to be done to build a business and life you will be proud of gives you the clarity and inspiration you need to keep grinding.
You are not the only one who feels like a fraud. You are not the only one who keeps failing. You are not the only one who has been at it for four years (or ten). You are not alone. There is a whole lot of mess that goes on behind the scenes, but if you can get right with that and keep on pushing, you will win. You will win because you never gave up.