December 2, 2020
How do we respond to failure as changemakers? (part two)
By Kara Martin

In a previous blog, we met Aron and Louise Mercer, an amazing couple who are innovative leaders of change in their respective fields. They were our guest speakers at our recent Imagine Series Event.

Aron has founded and advised several social enterprise start-ups.

Louise is a forward-thinker with leadership experience in insurance, financial services and not-for-profit industries.

Both Louise and Aron are great friends of Seed and valued members of our community.

One of the tough things for the Mercers has been dealing with failure, businesses that haven’t taken off. They are open about that experience, “There is much about business you can control. And much of it that you can’t,” explains Aron.

“You can control business model design, your levels of persistence to see something succeed, your energy levels/creativity/tenacity, your commitment to execution. You can’t control things like luck, timing, Facebook changing its T&Cs right before launch, marital breakdowns, and a thousand other things.”

“So, a key tip for us is that through the ups and downs of business you will always need to keep choosing who you are, who and what you are faithful to, and what you will stand for (especially when in personal discomfort),” says Louise.

“Pain is your best indicator for learning. If you can train yourself to react to pain with introspection, with seeking to make sense of things, with seeking to learn, it can be incredibly rich.

“Keep perspective,” says Louise, “Failing in a start-up isn’t all that bad! Not in the scheme of things. No one died, no one was bankrupted. Aron and I still count our time working on MakeSomeChange as better than a PhD in entrepreneurship. We learnt incredible amounts from the experience.”

Also key to their ability to self-reflect and learn from failure is their Christian faith. “There is no doubt that our faith is fundamental. For both of us, the fact that we were even interested in social enterprises is surely a work of God in both us. Our faith often serves like an internal compass helping us to have a true North — it’s our hope as we venture into the unknown, it reminds us what is important when navigating difficult waters, and it’s our focus for gratitude.”

However, there are times when business immersion distracts them from God. “For me, that particularly happens when things are going well and pride or greed risk getting in the way,” says Aron.

“We all want to be able to say we have run the race, we have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7-8),” says Louise. “But there are two things to note about that: firstly, it doesn’t say that every step along the way will be easy, that you won’t doubt or forget God along the way. But you need to finish faithful, and that is related to the second point: you must be running. Not watching, not spectating. So, keep running, keep trying, persevere. Your faithfulness comes through the tumult of the journey itself. (Hebrews 12:1-2)”.

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Kara Martin

Kara Martin is a Seed Coach and Facilitator. Kara is a speaker, lectures at Alphacrucis and Mary Andrews colleges, and was formerly Associate Dean of the Marketplace Institute at Ridley College in Melbourne. She has worked in media and communications, human resources, business analysis and policy development roles, in a variety of organisations, and as a consultant. She was Director of the School of Christian Studies for three years and has lectured with the Brisbane School of Theology, Macquarie Christian Studies Institute and Wesley Institute. Kara has a particular passion for integrating our Christian faith and work, as well as helping churches connect with the workers in their congregations. She is married to David, and they have two amazing adult children: Jaslyn and Guy. Volume 1 of Workship: How we can Use our Work to Worship God was published in April 2017. Workship 2: How we can Flourish at Work was published in May 2018. Kara has just started on Workship 3: How to Shape Christians for the Workplace. To find out more about Kara, visit www.workship.com.au

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