I have been working in Energy business most of my life and getting the job well done. Then, one day, came along this unique and appealing opportunity to get involved in a multimillion construction project. Of course, I grabbed the chance with both of my hands. Although I was doing more than well, I wanted more. I took the opportunity and dived right in! Unfortunately, as the project went on, little, disturbing things started to happen.

In order to start this project, I had to go to the bank to ask for a loan. The thing is when you do this —maybe some of you might know how this works— they value all your assets. And when I say all, I mean all of them. Everything you own is put into the pot. This way, they make your belongings a kind of backup collateral for your debt… just in case everything goes to hell. Spoiler alert: it did.

When I say €16 million, I don’t mean I actually had this amount of money on my bank account. Could you imagine me swimming in all those bills? Sounds like a scene you’d find in Breaking Bad, don’t you think?

What I lost was the worth of all my companies, land that I owned for my construction project, many personal belongings, and even my mom’s house was put at risk and almost gone!

You would think that an opportunity of this magnitude would take the best out of you. In unknown circumstances, we tend to learn the most. But I didn’t learn a damn thing. I was making one mistake after another. And when things started to fall apart, there I was, trying to solve problems in every wrong way possible. On my own – without any guidance or help.

You would think that an opportunity of this magnitude would take the best out of you. In unknown circumstances, we tend to learn the most. But I didn’t learn a damn thing. I was making one mistake after another. And when things started to fall apart, there I was, trying to solve problems in every wrong way possible. On my own – without any guidance or help.
It was far too late for me to do anything about it when it all came down. And in the course of two weeks, I lost everything. What makes things even worse is the fact that my other businesses were doing okay, but due to the fact I had everything linked to this one big project, it all fell apart.
In the end, I realized that my greatest mistake was not about investing millions in the project I knew nothing about it. It was about not learning during the process.
Of course, I failed! Acting the way I was —it was almost like driving on auto-pilot— the whole project was doomed from the start.

I learned the hard way that failing is normal. It’s pretty much like riding a bike! Nobody ever gets it right on the first attempt, and no one expects you to.

This disastrous failure changed me, entirely. The man I used to be; he´s not around anymore. Now I´m helping others and making sure they don´t repeat my mistakes. Well, at least not all of the mistakes together, and as much as they allow me to help.

I turned my failure into knowledge. A few years overdue, but still. So, it´s true. Everything does happen for a reason.

By Miha Matlievski

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Failure is not a taboo

I was never an academic type of person. So by the age of 15 ( and still in high school), I spent more time at my father’s company than in school. When I was 18, I dropped out of high school to take on commercial and purchasing tasks at my father’s company. I managed to take up various tasks in the warehouse as well. Another thing I should mention about myself is also that I never hesitated to grab a broom and dustpan if needed. As already mentioned I wasn´t interested in a formal education, but I was very fond of informal education. I just love to read. Always have been. Books were, are and forever will be my endless source of knowledge. Through reading and participating in various classes, seminars, conferences, and similar events, I managed to form quite an intriguing base of knowledge. However, the subject that fascinated me the most was psychology. First Life Lessons I was just starting to get the hang of business when the first major turning point in my life occurred – my father suddenly got sick and passed away in 2003. I had to grow up over the night and take over the management of our family business. Unfortunately, being so young, I had far too little knowledge and experience in managing a company, employees, finances, and other management related tasks. The company nearly went bankrupt in less than two years. I ended up alone since all employees left the sinking ship early on. I somehow succeeded to find new partners and convinced them to help me save the company. They had the knowledge I lacked so I could focus on the things I was really good at – building good relationships with suppliers and customers, closing major deals, optimizing processes, and designing new business models. From hero to zero The company soon saw an annual growth of 100% for the next four years. Imagine that! In the meantime, new ideas were born, new projects came along, and the number of companies I owned or co-owned added up to four. Unfortunately, the previous life lessons were not hard enough, and when things took off, I got seriously arrogant and once again made some extremely bad decisions. The situation got even worse because of the financial crisis that started in 2008 and deepened in 2009 in Slovenia. Those four companies I owned or co-owned went bankrupt overnight, leaving me with a huge debt. I, like most people, found it very painful to talk about being bankrupt back then. As long as I can remember my motto was “failure is not an option.” The hardest thing for me was to admit to myself and to others that I failed. This mindset led to further bad decisions. And instead of breaking the downward spiral over time, it went on, and I was knocked down to the ground. Big time! The struggle, mostly with myself, began! I tackled some projects and grabbed onto every straw that even remotely looked like a potential solution. Just like a gambler who believes that he will win at blackjack with the next card. Only to find moments later that the card of salvation will never come. I would bring a project close to the finish line and just as I was about to close the deal, something would always go wrong. I blamed politics, other companies, and various other factors, but never myself. Deep down, I also harbored a lot of resentment towards the people I felt were responsible for my companies going bankrupt and towards those who I thought should have helped me because I was always there for them in the past. Istruggled with severe depression and anxiety, including a lot of health issues. Stress was my companion 24/7. I shut myself off from; well, from myself, my friends, and the rest of the world. Each phone call and each email caused panic attacks that would last for hours, but since then I came a long way. I always was a fighter, giving up was never an option, and that made me stand tall! Luckily, there were a few people in my life who helped me during this entire time. Who stood beside me and believed in me. I am and always will be sincerely grateful for that! Reaching the absolute rock bottom Then came one day when I couldn’t see myself finishing another project or taking on something new. At that point, I reached rock bottom, financially and emotionally. That was the moment I will never forget. I had no choice but to finally admit to myself: “I have failed”! Saying that out loud, changed my entire point of view. The world I knew seized to exist. It felt like all the weight was lifted off my shoulders. I immediately felt lighter and all the resentment has disappeared. Eventually, I became grateful for the experience, which was what I needed to turn my life around.  All this happened in a very split of the moment. The most important moment of my life, may I add. The biggest change, which also led to the positive changes in my life, was the change in how I perceived “failure." Failure is not a taboo It shouldn’t be perceived as a bad thing. We need to embrace failure as a priceless learning experience. Learn from it, adjust your actions, and then go out again just to do it all over again. From this point on, I started to write my thoughts and emotions on paper – for myself. I started with an explanation who I really was. What I feel, how I react to certain things, and most of all what’s important to me. To a certain extent, what has helped me was also the fact that I was always curious by nature. I wanted to know how things work, and why some things were as they were. That’s when I started to devote a lot of time to determine what were my mistakes in the past and what can I learn from them. What do I have to do so I will not repeat them in the future?

Source: By Miha Matlievski

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