I’m a failure...and I like it | Rebecca Jane
As the owner of a mental health company, I knew this week I had to talk about ‘failure’.
But let’s start with the first lesson in ‘failing’, you NEVER fail. You gain a collection of new experiences that teach you how to navigate new paths!
I got a ‘failure degree’ long before my law degree. I have personally learnt more from ‘failure’ than I ever did from success. The biggest lesson of all came in 2009, like it did for a lot of people.
At 18 years old, walking past a church one day, I decided to buy it. I had no idea how, I certainly didn’t have the money and I didn’t have wealthy parents backing me up. I hadn’t owned a terrace house either, let alone a church, but back in those days I thought I was invincible.
Huge shout out to Jonathan Wolstencroft, who was an up and coming estate agent with Petty’s back in 2002. Jonathan is now the wonderful owner of Whiteacres Estates across the North, and it has been delightful to watch his career journey from the beginning.
I rang Jonathan, made him an offer £5,000 over asking price for a church in Trawden, and had NO idea how I was going to buy it.
Back in the 2002-2006 era any man and his dog could make money in the property landscape, and I was one of them.
I found a way to make it work, acquired niche development funding and set off on my property dreams.
It worked, for a while. I made my first million by the time I was 21. I lost it all by the time I was 24…that wasn’t a fun week.
Any adult alive in 2009 will remember when the economy crashed, and a whole load of people went with it. The niche finance company who backed my developments went under.
Back then, my parents and I offered our personal homes as security for the developments I transformed.
The finance company gave me 12 weeks to sell everything I had, or I was going bankrupt with them. My home would be repossessed, and worse than that, so would my parents' home.
There will never be a more sobering moment in my life than being 24 years old and faced with losing everything my parents ever worked for.
I’d been incredibly postnatally depressed for over 18 months and I decided it was time to divorce my unfaithful husband in the same week, because, when you’re at the bottom you can’t go much further right?!
Fast forward 12 weeks and 3 days, all my developments had been sold. I had nothing left, but I’d escaped bankruptcy and my parents still had everything they worked a lifetime for.
I exchanged my Range Rover for a smart car, the divorce was well under way, I went down the route of antidepressants, I had no job, no qualifications but I started to rebuild my life as a single mother of a two-year-old daughter - and I was excited.
I have never felt more content in my life. A fast and luxurious life is fun, but you couldn’t pay me to take that amount of stress again.
Eventually, if you’re living a life you haven’t truly grafted for, the house of cards will come down.
People will get hurt, there will be huge losses, and there will be immense amounts of failure. Nothing comes crashing down quicker than a story built on ‘fast success’.
The lesson I learnt from my first epic life failure; honesty and authenticity is key to life, business and just about anything in-between. There is no room here to ‘fake it until you make it’.
I created a business and lifestyle on weak foundations. I had no experience, no qualifications, no understanding of the commercial landscape.
That’s one of the reasons why I went to law school at 29.
I started my next business on £200, and a whole lot of hard work. From personal experience, I went and opened as a private investigator, and this time, I didn’t ‘fake it until I made it’.
I worked 70 hours a week, I studied, I invested every penny I made for nine months and I learnt the skills from the bottom up. Thankfully it became the largest female run private investigation company in the world, and we had a blast along the way.
I was now a calculated risk taker, rather than a risk taker who saw the risks, set them on fire and danced in the flames!
Risk is what makes business go round, but too much of it quickly becomes a recipe for disaster and I had to learn that the hard way.
Ultimately I failed a few more times, but in different ways. I failed at another marriage (love me some wedding cake), I spent years in a daze trying to rebuild my life after such an epic failure.
Unfortunately I had clung to someone for security and stability, thinking it was a good fit, but ultimately it wasn’t.
I didn’t have the courage to look at my marriage and admit ‘I got this wrong too’. When you’ve gone through true turbulence and tragedy, you need time to find who you really are again, rushing into a relationship won’t provide the answers.
You do nothing but develop a false version of yourself, and you end up living a lie.
I’ve now spent five years alone. I needed to find who I was before I invested in another person. I’ve had many mistakes and failures to make, but I can’t give myself to anyone again until I know I’m the best version of myself that I can be for them.
My mental health also failed. Over the course of my life I’ve spent around 450 suicidal days battling with my own mind about how to stay on the planet.
I developed unhealthy addictions to medication, alcohol and people… but this is exactly why you find me working in the mental health arena.
I never want anyone to face the demons I have, my entrepreneurial mind is finally put to good use in developing new pilots to change the way we treat mental health and if I can learn just one lesson about myself that helps someone else, it’s worth sharing.
Failure is life. We fail, we learn from the mistakes, we get up and we carry on regardless. I may not always get it right, and I’m going to fail a whole load more but I promise to get up and try again… which is not always a promise I thought I’d be able to make.
"Life is not about weathering the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain."