Associate Professor Eric Teoro is the head of the business administration program at LCU. In his classes he always uses real life examples of events that have happened throughout his life to help students better relate to what they are learning. This past week I sat down to interview him for my blog series on failure. Here are some of his thoughts on failure.
I stood at my lathe, dripping sweat, tooling steel just like any other day. Near my workstation, furnaces were running at 1,600 degrees. I was covered in machine oil, my fingers cut from metal shavings. For some reason, though, this day was different.
I looked over at the man working next to me and I realized he had been working at that machine as long I had been alive. I asked myself, “Did I want to be a machinist the rest of my life?” The answer was no. I realized my lack of effort throughout my past had kept me from working toward a future I desired.
(Professor Teoro’s disclaimer: Working in a mill or factory is, in itself, noble work; it simply was not what he wanted to do.)
Landon Liga: What does the term “embrace failure” mean to you?
Eric Teoro: The probability of failing is always present, so what I see in that idea is to look at failure as presenting a choice. You have two options, you can take failure as a time of growth and learning to become stronger or you can let it defeat you. When you go with the first option failure becomes an opportunity.
LL: Has there ever been a time where you missed out on an opportunity because of fear?
ET: I don’t know if it was fear but more of a lack of self-confidence. Growing up my lack of self confidence defined my lifestyle. I didn’t put forth the effort in most things because I automatically assumed I was going to fail. I always thought I wasn’t good enough. There were a lot of opportunities and events I missed out on but I can’t recall them because, like I said, it was the way I lived a good portion of my early life.
LL: What advice would you give to someone who has a fear of failing?
ET: Get over yourself. Stop putting so much emphasis onto the consequences of failure. The fact of the matter is that most people won’t even notice your failure or they are too busy to even care about it. If you fail the sun will still come up in the morning and the earth will still spin.
If the reason you are afraid to fail is because of what others might think, it’s a good time to ask this question, “Am I truly dying to myself?” This is a good indicator to see where you heart lies. If the answer is no, stop focusing on yourself. Go out and serve others. By doing this you take the focus of yourself and begin to become become more humble. This will help you deal with other peoples perceptions of you.
LL: Can you talk about a time when you were afraid to fail, but took a chance and it paid off?
ET: This past year I was interested in helping an editor for a business ethics textbook, I sent him an email asking if there was any way I could help. He replied back and told me that he was retiring and that he would pass my name on to the book publisher. A few days later, I received an email from the publisher asking if I would be interested in serving as the textbook’s editor. I just completed editing my first edition of McGraw Hill’s Annual Editions: Business Ethics textbook.
If I would have let the fear of failure control me I would have lost out on an excellent opportunity to serve. Why should I be the judge of someone else’s decision? Let me not say no for them. If there was a reason behind him saying “no” I could have learned from his reasoning and been better prepared for the next time and opportunity like this arose.
Summing it all up: One of the things I have learned about low self-esteem and fear is this–when you start focusing on serving others, you start doing things you would never have imagined possible. The real success, however, comes not from the things you start doing, but from considering others and not being wrapped up in yourself.
This is the second in a series of posts by senior Business Administration major Landon Liga. He’s from Long Island, New York, and is learning to embrace his own mistakes.