Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How to Become a Fearless Shop Owner

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”Michael Jordan

“What did you fail at this week?” This question was posed to young “Sarah” by her father each night at the dinner table. So much so, that it became part of their dinnertime routine.

If she had nothing to report, her dad was disappointed. When she told him about how she “bombed” while trying out for the role in the middle school play, she received a “high five” and was congratulated.

Then Dad would ask her to write down what he referred to as “the hidden gifts” from the experience. In other words, he wanted to know what she learned from her failures that would help her to succeed in the future.

Little Sarah grew up and graduated from College with the goal of becoming a lawyer. This was her dream! There was one small problem. To get into law school, you must pass the LSAT test. She failed the test and was denied admittance.

Sarah shifted her focus and decided to become a business owner. As she was attempting to launch her concept, she heard the word NO for two straight years.

For two years, she was rejected by investors. For two years, she was rejected by the banks. For two years, she was rejected by store owners.

So, whatever became of poor little Sarah? Sarah Blakely went on to become the youngest self-made billionaire in history! She is the founder and CEO of Spanx, a company that sells leggings, undergarments, and maternity wear in sixty-five countries!

When asked to explain her success, she attributes it to her father redefining failure for her at the dinner table. Failing in her quest to become a lawyer turned out to be a billion-dollar hidden gift

If she had succeeded on the LSAT test, she would have failed to become a billionaire!

Sarah’s story is confirmation of the following truth: if you have a commitment to persistence, there is no failure. There is only feedbackOnce you reframe your failures as feedback, you become fearless.

So, what can you do to use failure as feedback, and become a fearless shop owner? Keep reading to learn the billion-dollar secrets.

Lose the Microwave Mentality

In his book The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy makes mention of the microwave mentality. Thanks to fast food, instant messaging, and overnight mail, we are a society that expects instant results.

He uses the example of the slot machine winner that you see in Vegas jumping up and down after a big win. All you see is her sudden success. What you don’t see are the hundreds of times that same person lost on that same machine.

You see the Top Shop Owner on stage at the SuperConference celebrating his success. What you don’t see is the struggle that led to that moment.

You don’t see that day when his best technician left for the competitor. You don’t see that day when he spent $1,000 on a new acquisition mailer that resulted in a $19.00 oil change. You don’t see that day when he ran the employment ad for a state inspector, and only the fork-lift drivers applied.

The first step to becoming a fearless shop owner is to lose the microwave mentality. It will be harder to bounce back from your set back if you’re looking for the quick fix. The moment you begin to view success as a process, you will be positioned to view failure as feedback.

Embrace Flexibility

I have a friend from college named “Rick” who is a pilot. Before he takes off to his destination, he inputs the coordinates into a GPS navigation system. Once the plane takes off, factors like the weather and changes in the atmosphere will cause the GPS to change the flight path.

From the time the plane takes off, to the time it arrives, the path may change several times for various reasons. The destination is fixed but the flight path is flexible. 

Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Most shop owners who fail to achieve their goals do so because they quit after the first failed attempt. Instead of changing their path, they give up on the destination. 

For example, let’s say you set a goal to hire your replacement this year. You run an employment ad and get zero responses and react by quitting on your quest to find help. The fact that you got zero responses doesn’t make you a failure. The fact that you gave up on your goal does.   

The flexible leader will view failure as feedback. Instead of quitting, she would change the title, change the bullet points, add a sign-on bonus, and repost the ad. The hidden gift from this experience would be that she learned how to write better copy.

Being flexible is the second step to becoming a fearless shop owner. It takes courage to continually change the path until you arrive at your destination.


So, there you have it. If you lose the microwave mentality and embrace flexibility, you can become a fearless shop owner. What did you fail at this week? What did you learn from it?

Email to receive a Failure Takeaway Sheet to help you document the hidden gifts from the experience.

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.