When travelling circus-restaurant company Madame Zingara was forced into liquidation, founder Richard Griffin faced one of the darkest periods of his life. But it taught him valuable lessons about accepting what fate hands out and bouncing back to fight another day.
Unable to pay bills or staff, Griffin describes the period as the first time in his life where he felt ‘real shame’. “I felt enormous responsibility to people who I’d let down,” he says of the friends and family who’d invested in the business, not to mention the employees who were losing their jobs.
Griffin retreated to live on a friend’s couch and lick his wounds, which is where the Madame Zingara story would have ended had he not tried to salvage some important lessons from the experience.
“When you find yourself with absolutely nothing, you do a lot of thinking and you come to realise that the only thing you have control over is your attitude,” he says. “What I learnt from the experience is that sometimes you have to accept what fate hands you. What’s on your plate is there for a reason. If you are ever going to move forward, you have to accept it, step up and deal with it. If you continually bemoan your fate you’ll never move past the terrible thing that has happened to you,” he relates.
Within three years Griffin had Madame Zingara back on its feet, creditors had been repaid, shows were staged to sell-out audiences and the business was worth R30 million.
“My parents always taught me that it’s not your past that defines you, but rather your future. You may not have control over what happened in your past but you certainly have control of how you shape your future,” he says.
What’s on your plate is there for a reason. Step up and deal with it.