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Success Is Not a Destination, It's a Trip

(A dinner speech to Wisconsin Women Entrepreneurs, presented in February 1999)

I started thinking about definitions of success and its dark shadow, failure, when I sold my business. I was at a Rotary Club luncheon, sitting next to a sometime/client of mine, and when I told him I was selling my business after 12 years, he asked me,
"were you successful?"

The room disappeared, heaven and earth paused in their motions, while I swung in a great cold gray void. Was I successful? Well, was I? By what measure? So much had happened, so many dreams left by the wayside...

and then I remembered where I was, and who I was with, and I answered, "Of course."
But when I think of the 12 years I spent as an entrepreneur, I don't think "what a success" or "what a failure". I think "what a trip."

A good trip is one that's filled with adventures, opportunities to learn, unexpected surprises–not every moment going according to plan, not every possibility foreseen.
Very often the survivors of failed businesses express that they are grateful for the experience, and would even go through it again. Travellers are often the same way about trips that went off track.

What this means is that success and failure are not simply two ends of a continuum. They are more like two strokes of a cycle, an engine driving business all around us. Are you a success or a failure? Depends when you ask, right?

Read more. The Road Map »

My life stories

Road Map

Cycle 1: Exploring Partnership

Cycle 2: Destination Sole Proprietor. 1987 - 1990

Cycle 3: Destination Lean and Mean, 1990-1993

Cycle 4: Pearly Gates, 1993-1996


© 2003 Sarah White. Contact me with comments or questions. Home.