Giving Yourself Permission to Fail
I know, this is a crazy topic for a gardening website, but this website is really about people and plants and their love of plants. And the one thing that I hear from people all of the time is; “Mike, I should have done this sooner!”
This guy, he walks around the edge of the swimming pool, every once in a while sticking his toe in the water, then he starts bothering the others who are enjoying the pool by asking; “Is it cold? Is it really deep? Does the chlorine burn your eyes?”
He’s driving them crazy, they are trying to have a good time in the pool and he’s being a pest.
Here’s the thing, way too many people are so afraid of failing at something that they never get started. They spend their entire life waiting for the ideal time or waiting for this or that. But if you look around, look at all of the successful people you know, how did they get successful? They took chances. They took their fear of failing at something and pushed it way to the back of their minds and they trudged ahead.
The universe loves and rewards boldness.
I look at people that I know and they spend their entire life denying themselves things that they want, things that they deserve, but they are hard-wired to deny themselves. Why do they do that???
I’ve spent my entire life failing at things.
My first really big failure was Financially Catastrophic. Family members told me to quit, to give up, quit trying, there’s no use. People like us don’t have a chance. I just couldn’t quit. I’d already paid a bigger price than most people are willing to risk so I trudged ahead and it paid off.
My inability to quit trying changed lives. There are a lot of people who thank me for doing what I do because growing plants gives them purpose. It gives them a feeling of self-worth.
So here’s my message to you. Whatever it is that you secretly want to do. Just do it! Take the plunge! Change your life!
Interested in Growing and Selling Small Plants? Allow me to help you.
My Story, how I got here . . .
Back in 1985, I took a job reading electric meters. It was a dull, low-paying, dead-end job. But I had a family to feed and I needed the job. At night and on weekends I was doing re-landscaping jobs. Three a week! I was working like a mule!
But deep down inside I had desires and ambitions. I started studying on my breaks at work and found something that really interested me. This was years before the Internet or cell phones.
One day I get this letter in the mail selling a subscription to a newsletter. Fifty Bucks for a one year subscription! That’s crazy! But what this guy wrote was compelling and interesting. So I went the library and used the pay phone in the lobby to give the guy a call.
Not only did I subscribe to his newsletter for $50 but I also bought 20 years worth of his back issues. For $700 dollars!!!!! How crazy was that? It was the dead of winter and I was broke! And I just put $750 on a credit card! I knew that Pam was going to kill me. Didn’t care, I wanted a better life for all of us. I knew that I would have to do a lot of wheelbarrow pushing to pay off that credit card. Didn’t matter, I wanted that information.
Let that sink in. I was willing to risk a great deal just to get information from a person that I had never met.
But that wasn’t the end of my craziness.
A few years later I heard about this thing call “The Internet”. I really had no idea what that was, nobody that I knew had ever mentioned it, but I read about it in those newsletters. The guy said that you had to have a computer to get there.
Great. I didn’t know how to use a computer. I was almost 40 had never even touched a computer.
So I went out and bought one. Pam just rolled her eyes, didn’t even ask how I expected to pay off that $2,500 charge. She figured it was my problem I guess. I was afraid of that stupid computer! Afraid to touch it! Late at night I used to sit in the dark living room and stare at that computer thinking to myself; “There has to be something I can use that thing for.”
In 1994 after I sorta figured the thing out I started writing a book. A gardening book. That’s all I knew. I finished the book that winter but I was afraid to go any further with it. I needed $4,000 to get it published. They told me I had to pre pay for 3,000 copies! So I didn’t do anything with it. It just sat there, stored on my computer. Then about a year later, still reading that newsletter I subscribed to, I just knew that I had to publish the book.
Another $4,000 on the credit card! A few weeks later a semi truck pulled up in front of the house and the driver and I unloaded 3,000 books into our garage. Now what? I had a garage full of books and a “not so happy wife”. I needed to sell those books.
Long story short I decided to build a website. Only problem was, I had no idea how to do that and back in 1998 there was nobody I could hire or ask. I bought software, Microsoft Frontpage, and two books on how to use the program. It was the biggest struggle of my life, but that winter I built my website and it went live News Years Day 1999.
It was the most God awful, ugly website you have ever seen!
I know that because the handful of people that I got to visit the website told me how bad it was and they did so in very unfriendly terms. In fact, they were complete jerks about it! They told me that it was impossible to build an eCommerce website with software like Frontpage.
Idiots! They were wrong!
And here we are all these years later. Because I took chances, risked some money, risked a great deal of humiliation.
The people you know and love want you to fail.
There is no shortage of people willing to tell you what you can’t do, what won’t work. Why do they do that? Because they want to keep you at their level. It’s too painful for them to see you succeed.
My advice to you?
Pursue your dreams with unabated enthusiasm! Life is short, the things that are holding you back flat out don’t matter! Find what you love and do it with complete commitment! Invest in yourself, invest in your dreams.
If your dream is to grow and sell plants, Test Drive Our Members Area for $7.00. Seven Bucks!
Because I was willing to take chances, My Life Now Looks Like This.
Joe T. says
Hi, Mike, I saw your video on cuttings from Alberta Spruce. Found it very interesting, but I didn’t see anything about if they were spring or fall cuttings. (Soft wood or hard wood?)
Thought I’d like to give it a try.
If done during the winter as hardwood cuttings they really need some bottom heat. So it’s much easier to do them in June as softwood cuttings. https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/01/easy-summertime-plant-propagation-techniques-can-home/
John. Hurley says
Mike I sent a message to you last night and if you answered it I can’t find your answer
I see messages/ comments here but I rarely see incoming Email, Duston does all of that. I don’t work in the office.
Mike, l don’t sell plants- l won’t ever sell plants. l have a front flower garden that others enjoy while l toil. The houseplants are too much for me to care for…But YOU !!! You are a treasure and l admire and respect you to no end… You make the world a better place. Thank you
Thank you, I appreciate that.
Wes Meyerholtz says
Mike, right now is the worst possible times for me. I just lost my job and fighting for unemployment, bills backing up. And to top it off a diagnosis of cancer but this type is easily treatable, I hope. With all this against me and my wife I still say never die. I’ve subscribed to your newsletter, bought your DVD and still want to try to make a go at starting my own business and what a great business opportunity than producing plants, even with my own limited success. With expert guidance I would love an opportunity at your contest.
Getting started growing plants is easy, you start as small or as large as you are comfortable with. When you can, test drive our members area. http://backyardgrowers.com/join
I”ve sent you a reply a while back, but I’m sending another. I’m going to try again. You have always sent me information on propagating shrubs, but I haven’t had much success. My past business was in lawn care and garden design. I did GREAT with that, the problem was I needed work in the winter. I’m looking to get something going with plants and shrubs because in 8 to 10 years I would like to semi retire and that would give me something to do as well the income would be awesome. We have an acre here and I’ve been offered a couple more, so if I could get this to work, I would be REAL happy.
I’m trying to stay inspired 🙂
If you want to be successful at growing and selling plants, you owe it to yourself to test drive our members area. It’s an amazing place and we make it super easy for you to test drive it for 30 days. http://backyardgrowers.com/join
Mel R. Carey says
Wishing and Trying are opposites
If wishing LEADS you to trying – THEN your time was not Wasted.
Thanks Mel, I say it all the time. “Success belongs to those willing to take action.”
paul thompson says
Hi Mike,this is paul thompson from France once more,I sent to you an email on May 7th 2016 and you replied on May 8th 2016 supporting my comments,for which I thank you.my new venture is growing HOUSE PLANTS and I am still building my breeding stock so that I can meet the demand when I finally begin to sell.My business plan is being kept secret so far but it only includes SUCCESS not FAILURE because I have not ever thought that my plant losses have failed me but on the contrary they have built my SUCCESS. Your comments confirmed what I had always believed,that doing nothing about my ambitions was and never could be an option.I am now 82 and am convinced I will live live long enough and fit enough to fulfill my ambition to develop a successful growing concern,just as you have done.Mike, keep up the good work and you will also stay young and fit.Kindest regards from France,Paul Thompson.
All the way from France, I thank you for your kind words.
CJ RYAN says
I have been reading about this for a couple of years now, and it sounds so intriguing! I read everything you send me, Mike. I want to do it, and I think my first step is to do a trial run! Maybe even win a membership! I’m ready!!
Do the trial. Waiting and hoping to win a membership is a form of procrastination. We’ve already chosen our winners and they have been notified.
Chuck Morford says
I know that this question doesn’t actually fit in this discussion but …here it is.
We received a Oregon spruce last Christmas. It is now out of the pot and planted in the yard. I recall one of your posts where you showed a couple of pictures of spruce trees and mentioned something about their needing to be trimmed properly to keep their shape. Now I can’t find the post. Can you help me? The little spruce is pretty and we want to keep it that way.
Thank you for a very helpful internet site.
The only post that comes to mind is this one, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2016/04/dwarf-alberta-spruce-growing-them-from-cuttings-and-caring-for-them/ or maybe this one; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/09/growing-propagating-and-selling-canadian-hemlock-tsuga-canadensis/
I’ve not read all the replies to you in this post so forgive me if I am repeating what others may have stated. I think this post applies to anyone and anything that they are interested in doing. I am at the beginning of starting my own venture and I’m scared as all heck in thinking about it and getting out of my comfort zone.Right now, I feel very comfortable and have little to no risk in what I do other than waiting for my employer to one day decide to outsource my job or lay me off for younger employees.
You are a great marketer and I really enjoy getting your newsletters but this one has really hit home with it’s timing. I’m off to start on my adventure, please wish me luck.
Wishing you the best of luck! Any venture requires good marketing, see my marketing book, “Can Any Business Make You Rich?” on this page; https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2015/10/backyard-nursery-tools-of-the-trade-things-to-turn-you-into-a-successful-grower/
Mike,The problem with most folk is that they do not fully understand the growers mind.People as friends want you to fail so they can sound cleverer than you.But to a grower,failing to get something right first time is not a failure because what you learned from that effort will serve you well in your next attempt.And a grower will try again and again and again until the result is what he/she wants.So called friends are often what I call”DREAM SPOILERS”and are not really friends.I may sound a bit of a miserable so and so but I really am not,These comments are made in an attempt to support all that you Mike stand for.I am 81 years young and started a new career when I was 75 years young and now have started a new venture as well.People have told me I am too old but I dont listen to them.On the other hand real friends say good luck. My biggest asset is that I have always been able to see the BIG picture.Keep up the good work Mike,Kindest Regards from France,Paul Thompson.
You are absolutely 100% right! Thank you for sharing all the way from France! Enjoy your new venture, I’m sure you will be great at it.
Bob Long says
Mike, you are so very right. every time I get an email from you I say to myself “this guy is so smart”. however I’m still afraid to change because my kids depend on me for that steady check as does my mortgage. I’ve been a cook for 27 yrs. and have hated it for about 15 yrs. I almost took a landscaping job because I love plants and the outdoors but I just couldn’t commit out of fear. plus its so seasonal. any advice??
Years ago I had a belt buckle that said ” Success comes to those who hustle wisely” so true of a phrase…
Rita I would say put in your plant growing biz in that field. I kinda have the same ? The farm I was raised on was pretty much just pasture for the cows. My ? is, we put in new water pipes from the well and the ground was quite hard in places when tried to dig the trenches. So my ? is can dirt be too hard pan after being walked on by cows/horses for lots of years to actually grow anything but weeds? I know I’m being one of those you are discussing here. I am gardening and trying to sell plants from my small place in town and collecting too much stuff that needs to be at the farm. There just keeps being road blocks right and left so the process is taking longer than I like.
Rita Griebel says
Have a question for everyone. I have a unused horse pasture on a hill. Haven’t used for years, just keep mowing it. What would use to put on the pasture? Have another good sized area(live on a farm) that
I have large vegetable garden (50 x 100) but still lots of room. Am going to put a 4 x 50 foot strawberry patch in this spring. Will have it 28-24 inches high as it is getting to be hard to bend down to pick the the strawberries. Also have herb garden, good sized grape area for 3 kinds of grapes. Now to figure out what to put in the pasture.
One of the things that I try and suggest to people just starting out with http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm, is to start with a really small area and keep everything as tight as possible. Right now you’re mowing that pasture. But if you fill it with plants you’ll be weeding it! Which is a lot more work than mowing.
My first backyard nursery was approximately 1/11th of an acre. Actually when I first started it was 1/20 of an acre. The tighter you keep it, the easier it will be to keep it weed free.
Diana Wilcox says
Don’t know that you care, but that facebook/twitter/whatever square makes it very difficult to read your columns.
Diana, I do care, but I haven’t noticed. Duston is getting ready to make some changes to this site so hopefully that will solve the problem. It’s always a balance of what works best for the user, and what do we need here to keep traffic coming in.
Has anyone had success propagating swedish aspen? If so how and what were your tricks and timing? Thanks!
Thank you Mike, This is a great little way to make extra money in the spring!
I have a patient who gave me great advise as I was going through my Master’s program (graduated in 5-12, at 64!). He said, “If you can see the big picture, you can do anything.” That was in a conversation about his service to our country during WWII. That kept me going through the program and now as my husband and I are starting our own growing business!
Thank you Mike for all the information and encouragement you send out to us!
Ruanne, thank you. It’s easy for me to see the big picture and I’m often aware that others around me have no idea of what I see. It’s about believing in yourself. Recently someone posted that they wanted to start growing plants but first wanted to make sure that they could root cuttings. Wrong approach. The correct approach is to see that others are doing it successfully and believing that if they can you can do the same. I don’t understand why anybody would want to take such a slow approach to something new. Success is realized by those who take massive action and take action often. -Mike McGroarty http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm
Mike i think you will like this i dug up some mature sagos got a bunch of babys off it and sold one of them for 200 all this was free
Dan, you’re right, I like that a lot! Nice job.
James Ross says
Now this is a topic I know something about :-)over the last 15 years I have failed at many things when it comes to plants. Moving from the west coast to the east coast and learning all these zones and stuff sometimes getting pretty confusing. Many of my west coast plants died because of it. But what don’t kill me only makes me stronger….
I had a belt buckle years ago that said “Success comes to those who hustle wisely” so true…
Frank, I like that. Thanks for sharing.
Barb Studdard says
Thanks Mike. I needed this really bad. I have bought some plants to get started but the fear of failing has slowed to down alot.
Thanks so much
Well said, Mike. When I first got into growing plants, every time someone told me I couldn’t be a ‘real’ gardener, because I moved a lot and had to keep my ‘garden’ in containers and keep everything small (bonsai & dwarf plants), I kept at it and didn’t listen. In the process, I learned almost everything I now apply to my much larger, permanent in-ground garden and flower beds. Had I let them convince me I’d fail…I probably would have.
Grace, you are so right. You have to follow the beat of the drummer that you hear, not the ones that people think you should hear.
We are so afraid to fail that often we don’t even try which in itself is failure. If we can give ourselves permission to fail we would find that we are free to try most anything we want and we may even enjoy it
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
— Henry Ford
Celyn M. says
The really weird thing is (if you think on it) no one can think of anything learned that was NOT preceded with many failures. Why is that? Because failure is how we humans learn.
sorry the above comment should read
We are so afraid of failure that many times we don’t do anything which in itself is failure. So if we can give ourselves permission to try something and fail with the attitude that we can always get up and try again we are then free to do anything we want and put our minds to. Who knows we may even like it. 🙂
Your right Mike over a year ago I found my self out of work due to cut backs. So I thought about going back to school and then it hit me, plants. So I took a job a a local nursery which is family owned and run for over 80 years. I love it and there is nothing more rewarding then gardening.
Jim, You will learn sooo much working at that nursery. Thanks for sharing and wishing you the best!
Not trying is the real failure
Jack, you are so right. It’s better to fail forward and it’s only failure if you give up on your dreams.
Jody Biesche, Garden Island, Inc. says
So true, Mike. Very good and inspiring advice. As a landscaper, I sometimes feel like I’m doing something wrong because I don’t go to work every day and punch a clock. Some days I work twelve hours, some days I play hooky. My life revolves around the weather and how much energy I have. At 58, I can still work harder than most people but there are days that I just need to kick back. I’m not rich and sometimes winter is a big financial challenge, but I get to be outside on many beautiful days and feel very connected to Mother Earth and all the creatures who share this planet with me. Best wishes to all.
Jody, I understand what you are saying. These days I work a very different schedule but if you added up all I do in a day, it’s still a great deal of work, even on the days that I don’t think I’m productive enough.
Thanks Mike for all your inspiration and helping me make my dreams come true!
Jen, you’re welcome and as always I wish you the best of success.
Jay Eiser says
Thanks for the inspiration.
I want to get started, but I am not sure if Japanese Maple Liners will make it through the Winter this late in the season.
Scary to spend all that money and not be sure.
Jay, there are a lot of different ways to get started. I just planted out 400 Japanese maple trees, small ones, only about 12″ tall. Now I wish I’d ordered more but I’ll order them for spring.
roy mealer says
where do you get your small maples? haven’t been able to find them.
Roy, all of my wholesale sources are included in the wholesale directory that comes with my system http://freeplants.com/wanted.htm. I just bought some really nice ones for $1.80 each. Plus we have several members that sell a lot of different varieties to the other members.
Bobbette Hackle says
Wow! Just what I needed to hear for another area of my life I have been getting discouraged about. Thanks for the motivation. You are awesome, Mike!
This year, as a 67yr. old first time gardener, I built 3 raised gardens because I have a bad back and problems with getting down on my knees. Even though I finished very late into the season, I was able to harvest tomatoes, eggplant, peas, beans, peppers and cucumbers. The point is, if I acted on the belief that it was already too late, I wouldn’t have enjoyed a very satisfying crop and growing experience. You’ve been a great inspiration!
Kathy, thank you, I love hearing comments such as these.
Jack Rutter says
If there was no failute, success would not be noticeable and appreciated. Just like, if there were no shadow, there would not be light. My failures (and I have plenty) inspire me to success….
Yes that is so true – I failed the first time I tried to get into vet college, then I resat the exams and passed, and I am now a vet, or rather I am a mummy taking time out from veterinary to raise my 4 boys, so I’m seriously thinking about doing this, in fact I stuck 150 Brown Turkey fig cuttings this morning and planted 50 frosted curls grasses that I had divided from one original plant… 🙂
You are so right! You just try again. It’s like a child learning to walk. They don’t give up because they fall down. The prize is worth the falling down. It’s part of the proccess. If we really stop to think about it, do we get that many things right the first time we do them? Same goes with gardening and selling plants. Just do it for the JOY of it and all else will fall into place. We tend to overthink things. You can’t go wrong if something is bringing you joy. I’ve found that money usually follows the joy… BONUS! 🙂
Thank you for another great article, Mike.
Thanks for your inspiration! As a fellow avid gardener, you have just given me the boost I need to go ahead with my native plant business!
When Thomas Edison was inventing the light bulb – his famous quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
As long as we keep trying, eventually we win! I had this quote taped to my wall most of my life.
Mike you are so right!!!
Phyllis, Thank you for reminding me of visual reminders. We all need that. Thanks to everybody that posted a comment here. I replied to as many as I could. -Mike McGroarty