5 life-changing mistakes

August 20, 2008 4:49:15 PM PDT
The collapse of her marriage and business in the same week led Julie Wainwright into a personal, private downward spiral and then a subsequent redefining of her life and herself. Below, she shares her five biggest life-changing mistakes and how she moved on.

Five Life Changing Mistakes and How I Moved On
As background, I shut down Pets.com and my marriage collapsed the same week. Pets.com's closure was announced worldwide in all media forms and there were many articles about me personally. The divorce was a private matter, but personally devastating. The two together resulted in a personal, private spiral downward and a subsequent redefining of myself. I wrote the article to help others.

Summary of mistakes:

  1. I allowed others to define me
  2. I built self image on two supporting pillars-being smart and being married
  3. I stopped believing in myself
  4. I stopped taking care of myself
  5. I allowed my head to rule my heart
How I moved on from allowing others to define me
Allowing others to define me. I was labeled a failure by many news stories and many people that I met in the business world, but my marriage also failed and I believed I had failed personally.

How I moved on:

  • I reviewed my past professionally and personally and wrote down all that had gone right and gone wrong in my past and what I loved about myself and what I needed to work on. This gave me clarity on what was I believed to be true, not what others thought.

  • I asked myself if this had happened to someone else and I knew their intentions and their actions during this difficult time, would I embrace them or shun them? I decided I would embrace them and so that helped me embrace myself. This was critical for healing.

    I asked myself the following questions:

  • How can I separate what is 'put on me' from what I know to be true?

  • Did I do something to this person directly? If the answer was no, then the label was not about me

  • Does the person or people who have made comments about me know me?

  • If yes and I valued that person's opinion, I would listen to them

  • If no, then how can I care about their opinion?

  • What would my life be like if I continued to let others define me? Obviously, not good. My emotions would be taken for a continuous rollercoaster ride and wouldn't even be my ride!

  • Then lastly, if I did not know them, why would they make comments about me? These are some of the reasons I came up with:

  • It is their job to be critical (those in the media)

  • They are most likely unhappy with themselves and it is easier to throw stones at someone than look at yourself.

  • They are uncomfortable socially and therefore will say something that is inappropriate

  • They are full of fear about failing themselves

  • This last point helped me with empathy toward the people making the comments and helped me release anger. Please note, I did not want to be their friends, I just didn't want to hold the anger inside either.

    About Julie Wainwright:
    Julie Wainwright is the CEO of Berkeley Systems (Flying Toasters and You Don't Know Jack), Reel.com (first internet site to sell movies online), Pets.com (Sock Puppet fame), Bellamax (photo site for professional photo enhancement) and now, SmartNow.com, a site for women over 35 that spans all areas of their lives. The site has deep expert content and community. SmartNow.com is the first business she founded and funded. It launched 10 weeks ago.


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