An Entrepreneur's Guide to Eliminating Failure

Making Contact

Discussion 1 -

The Rationale

"We must view with profound respect the infinite capacity of the human mind to resist the inroads of useful knowledge."
- Ian Gray

In the satirical tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, two scoundrels concocted an elaborate scheme to relieve an emperor of a sizable amount of cash. Going to the gullible ruler and appealing to his greed and vanity, the crooks told him of a special type of clothing they, the supposed tailors, would use to make a special outfit for him. The outfit would be expensive, but he could afford it. The cloth was magical and would reveal anyone who was a fool. When he wore the clothes, those who couldn't see them would automatically be known as a dope. This offered a great advantage to the emperor because he wanted to know who in his kingdom shouldn't be trusted. After all, no one wants to trust a fool.

The emperor readily commissioned the con artists to proceed. Sitting around all day, eating off the palace plate, they appeared to be working on the clothing only when someone was present. Whenever the emperor or his advisors were near, the pseudo-tailors raved about the beauty of the cloth and how good it would make the emperor look. Of course, no one actually saw the cloth since it didn't exist. The dynamic duo were the masters of mime - the beauty of their plan being no one wanted to be labeled as a fool, so all continued the charade willingly. When the outfit was finished, the pomp and ceremony at the presentation was grand. What beautiful clothes! The exquisite tailoring! How majestic the emperor looked! As the emperor strutted his stuff for the whole kingdom, everyone cheered - except for one, a child. This child, noticing the improper exhibitionism of the ruler, declared, "The emperor is naked!"

Since we all know children are no fools, soon everyone, including the emperor, had to accept the truth, which caused a hasty retreat by one pink potentate. The true fool had been uncovered, and the hucksters made off with a handsome booty.

The point of the story is that no adult - the educated - was willing to expose the fact that the emperor was exposed. Don't indict the fabricators of the imaginary clothing too hastily. Sure, they were a criminal element, but the emperor, his servants, and the populous were more interested in not appearing as fools than in admitting the obvious truth.

The perpetrators of the hoax used this environment to create a scam. It took a child - the uneducated - to bring out the truth.

We say, "Well, the child brought it out because she didn't know better and wasn't afraid." But there's more to it than that. The child had nothing to lose. Not grown up and buying into or creating plans that didn't work, the child wasn't worried about making a mistake. What others thought of her wasn't important.

Did anyone have the slightest doubt the cloth was fake or the emperor was naked? Of course not, it was too obvious. But when he became suspicious about what was going on, he mistakenly went to the problem for the solution. All the malefactors needed to do was remind him of the clothing's purpose, and they were in fat city.

No fools, these crooks knew something the rest of the kingdom didn't. They knew the rationale, which has caused more failure, more pain, more embarrassment than all the cold, black lies of the world combined. Permeating everywhere, the rationale is this:

No price is too great to keep from being thought a fool!

Unfortunately, when others think someone should know something, any price is worth paying to not have to admit not knowing. People will do anything, say anything to keep their ignorance from showing. You see, the Emperor's New Clothes was written to be a mirror, not a window. The true fool is the one who thinks this story is about someone else.

We Are the Emperor

The emperor lost his objective. It was his job to set the example for the rest of the kingdom to follow. Instead of spending his time minding the store, he decided to take a short cut and paid the price. With the new clothes, there'd be no need for discipline. No need to be alert and watchful. It was the easy road.

We can never lose sight of our objective to succeed in our businesses. You and I are the emperor, so we must demand to see the clothes. The rest of the world be damned. It's surprising how many times I've been in a class or seminar, raised my hand, and asked for something to be explained again, later to be thanked by others in the group for my courage. What courage? I paid too much money and time to be there only to walk away without an understanding of what's going on. This is my future you (the teacher) are playing around with, maybe even the future of my family, so I want you to communicate with me in a way I'll understand.

It's not courage to get what I need. A very wise man once said, "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." So we ask and knock until we get it! Len and I are not impatient with people who have a hard time grasping things. Our ire is only aroused when we see someone who's unwilling to grasp things, without a desire to succeed. Success doesn't come to the deserver, but to the doer.

We've run across a multitude of cases where people were deserving, yet failed because of an unwillingness to act. They were waiting for something to happen instead of making things happen. On the other hand, we've found those who, in our opinion, didn't deserve to do well because of the way they treated those around them, yet things consistently worked in their favor.

Action is the lifeblood of business. Yet action is not enough. It must be proper action, informed action. It requires us to step back and take a good look at ourselves, often. There's an old adage that practice makes perfect. Not true! Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.

The emperor took action, but he secured the services of the wrong people. Running head-on into uninformed action, he let fear set him up for the fall.

People often do what they do because of fear. For Zig Ziglar, probably one of the best known motivational speakers, fear is an acronym:


False Evidence Appearing Real

There was plenty of evidence attesting to the crooks' deceit. However, for fear of appearing wrong, the emperor chose to follow the false evidence and ignore the true evidence. It sounds like the emperor needed to hire children. It's quite a web of self-deceit we weave around ourselves. We're afraid of what we'll find, but know the only way to improve is to face the truth.

"What if I don't know what I'm doing?"

"What if I'm wrong?"

"What if I can't fix the problem?"

What if, what if, what if! One thing we've learned over the years is this: A problem will not go away by itself.

Yet, business managers constantly complain about the problems they're experiencing. Even though they hate them, they avoid and ignore them.

Problem-solving is at the core of success.