8 Things to Remember Come Success or Failure

This time a year ago I had just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Wonderfully Made - the goal was to build our first facility in South Sudan and begin training and employing women, but first I needed $100,000.

That Kickstarter failed miserably....when it ended, we had only raised 4.64% of our goal (in case you're not familiar with Kickstarter, if you don't raise 100% of your goal your supporters get their money back and you don't get a penny).

Last December was one of the longest months of my life as I held my breath and worked my butt of to raise the $100k. And at the end of the month, I was back to square one, with not even one penny to show for it.

At the end of it all, when I realized I had failed, I had to decide: either I would give up, or I'd come up with plan B (and plan C and D and Z if I needed to).

Today, a year later, I spoke to my friend Laxman - a factory manager in East India - and he informed me that Wonderfully Made's products have been shipped and are headed my way.
Today, a year later, I spoke to one of the most beautiful, inspiring models to schedule a photoshoot for the new products.

A year ago I was crushed, I was disappointed, and I was determined. A year ago I had no idea what was in store for 2016...I didn't know that I'd spend several months living in the Dominican Republic working in an orphanage, I didn't know that I'd come to love and adore 19 girls as if they were my own, I didn't know that I'd meet sweet friends in many countries all over the world, I didn't know I'd spend a month traveling India, I didn't know that I would meet an incredible group of artisans making ethical leather items and that we would partner to come out with Wonderfully Made's first official products; I had no idea that I'd be half way along in the process to move overseas permanently to work with and empower women or that I would have the honor of meeting a gorgeous (in so many more ways than you know) new friend who would embody the Wonderfully Made spirit in all the ways I hoped (and more!) that would want to model our new products.

It hasn't all been easy; in fact, it's often been the very opposite. With each new friend came hard goodbyes as we parted ways to our different countries. I left that sweet orphanage with all of those precious kids and some of my best friends, and in doing so, I left a huge part of my heart there. India didn't work out like I had planned. There have been lonely moments and hard, long days. This whole years has been a jumbled mess of success and failures. But it's been a beautiful, jumbled mess that I wouldn't trade.

A year ago I wrote myself a list of eight things to do, regardless of whether or not that Kickstarter (or anything else in life) proved to be a success or failure. Over the course of this past year, I've found these 8 pieces of advice to prove helpful to just about every situation.
Whether you're starting a business or starting a family, whether you've just succeeded or failed, whether you have dreams and goals that you're working towards or you're feeling lost and unsure, I hope these inspire and encourage you, I hope they keep you grounded and spur you on.

1) Embrace emotions

Women are often accused of being overemotional; don't let that stop you from being honest and open with yourself and others when you succeed wildly or fail miserably.
16 months of late nights and early mornings, absurd amounts of coffee, tears, laughter, hopes, dreams, money, hard work and passion have culminated in this Kickstarter. You've spent hours brainstorming ways to positively change an entire industry; you're crazy and naïve enough to wholeheartedly believe it's possible. You've allowed your heart to be broken time and time again for the people you want to help. You traveled to their war-torn, politically unstable country to see the world from their eyes. You stood beside them in the overcrowded, undersupplied refugee camp that they call home, holding their hands and allowing tears to flood your face while your heart shattered... You personally invested your time and money into them, their communities, their churches, their hopes and dreams, and this Kickstarter. With all of that and more invested in this, you should feel emotional. In the words of Zooey Deschanel,
"Being tender and open is beautiful....Don't let someone steal your tenderness. Don't allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable, beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things."

2) Be fully present
You must remember to be fully present on January 2nd (and every other day).  If your fundraiser is a failure, don't run from it, hide from it, or wish it away. If it's a success, don't start making a to-do list quite yet. Enjoy the moment. Celebrate. Dare I say revel in it? Regardless, store up these moments in your heart. Remember where you were standing when you first found out. Remember who you're with. Remember what it smells like and what it sounds like. Enjoy the nitty, gritty details. Appreciate it now for what it is, regardless of what it is.

3) Stay humble
Do not let success get to your head. Remember, you didn't write yourself a $100,000 check (you don't even have checks!). If it's successful, the only reason is because of the Lord's providence and people's generous financial support. You're a 21 year old starting a fashion company...the first fashion company of it's kind, for that matter, yet you learned how to sew watching Youtube videos. You recently spent 5 hours trying to figure out how to file sales taxes by reading a wikipedia article...basically you have no idea what you're doing. Don't forget that.
Do not let failure get to your heart. You can be overly critical and entirely too harsh on yourself. Don't, for a second, believe the project failed entirely because you didn't work hard enough or long enough; don't believe it failed entirely because you were inadequate or unqualified. If you start thinking that, in a version of pride, you believe a lie that this is all about you. It's not. You know the Lord has clearly invited you to be part of this, but that's just it, you are a part.

4) Continue the hustle
If your project was successful, take a day or two to celebrate (spontaneous mountain trip anyone?); however, don't get so caught up in this success and fool yourself into believing you're now able to sit back and relax. It's time to put that money to use, to empower impoverished women and to make ethical, affordable clothing. Really you're just getting started. Dreams demand hustle!
If your project was a failure, take a day or two to rest (we can still go to the mountains, right?), but then you must get back to work. Don't let this crush your motivation! Jesus has called you and entrusted you with this. So Plan A failed...there are 25 more letters in the Alphabet!

5) Find my worth and value in Christ
Don't let success or failure affect your self-perception. Your value and worth isn't based on who you are or what you do. Your value and worth is based on who Jesus is and what He did on the cross.

6) Wait quietly before the Lord
May you begin each day laying your carefully crafted plans at the feet of the Most High, who knows not just what is good, but what is best. Always hold this project, each day, and every thought, with open hands, never so secure in your path, or your timing, that you foolishly sacrifice faith on the alter of pride. Continue to trust in the Lord, not yourself, both now and forevermore.

7) Continually dream big
You serve the God who created galaxies and tiny pebbles, who dreamed up and set in existence plump Christmas trees and gravity, who imagined the brilliance of a lunar eclipse and the sound rain drops make when they collide with the earth. You serve the God who so passionately loved all of humanity He sacrificed His one and only Son on their behalf, a God reckless in grace and munificently merciful. When, in the midst of this project, or this life, or this day you are overcome by the overwhelming realization that it is all far too big and you remain absolutely under-qualified, may you remember that the Lord is in the business of taking stutters and using them to address Pharaohs; He takes shepherd boys and uses them to save nations; He takes dead guys and brings them back to life. He’s a God who calls under-qualified people and qualifies them. Not only is He more than capable of using even you, He delights in it. Come success or failure, may you remember that and continue to dream big while you're asleep and even bigger when you're awake.  So many are concerned with arriving safely intact, void of failure, in constant fear of the uncertainty "big" presents, that they renounce risk and instead warily linger along the shore. It's only in venturing on wild seas that the storm shows Christ's mastery. May your life always show His mastery.

8) Always give your whole heart
In everything you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord rather than men (Col3:33).  Come success or failure, whether you're eating or breathing, walking around or resting, loving, creating, or speaking, whatever you may do, put your heart into it. The world is far too full of half-hearted people, infirm of purpose, perfunctorily living, working and existing. Do not let your passion dwindle, day by irreplaceable day in the dismal haze of the almost but not-yet. May it never be dwarfed by success, time and time again until it remainsbut a distant feeling. Your Father demands wholeheartedness.

Kaitlin EbelingComment