There’s an old Texas saying that goes: “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose your cow.” In other words, what we see as “failure” may not really have diminished our ability to contribute, produce or earn an income.
If you lost your job, is your cow gone? If your business bombs, is your cow gone or have you just lost a valuable but replaceable carton of milk? If you have an accident and can no longer hammer nails, is your cow really gone?
Ten years after starting Apple, Steve Jobs was fired by his own board. Yes, he felt betrayed, but then began to see this setback as a personal blessing. “The heaviness of being successful,” Jobs says of his firing, “was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life.”
His “cow” was his ability to be creative, to think, innovate and plan. He started another business that was then purchased by his own former company. Twelve years after being fired from Apple he was asked to return to the position of CEO and has been in that role since 1997. In 2007 Fortune Magazine listed Jobs as the Most Powerful Businessman of the year.
In the last couple of weeks I have been speaking to large groups of employees who are losing their jobs. There is a fair amount of despair in the conversations about “losing everything.” But are they losing their cows or just a pail or two of milk? You may be in the same position. Could it be that you are entering the most creative period in your life rather than losing everything? Could it be that you are getting ready to enter a new level of success that may surpass anything you’ve experienced? Is it even possible that your previous success was blocking the new season in your life that is about to be released?
General Douglas MacArthur once said, “Security is your ability to produce.” Security does not come from a job, from a company or from the government. It comes in your ability to be productive – and that is seldom taken away.
Don’t lose your cow! Your cow is unique. It should even be remarkable. And if you have been freed to be more creative expect chocolate milk with swirls of whipped cream on top rather than the plain old vanilla as you prepare for the future you want.