Failure is part of life.
To be human is to constantly fail and pick yourself up.
Some people cannot accept this and so they figure that if they do not even start, they have no chance to fail. This is still a form of failure, known as failure by default, and it’s the worse kind of failure because it is essentially self-sabotage. You defeating yourself.
Failure is a by-product of success. In pursuit of success in any endeavor it’s inevitable that you will fail at some point, or more likely at many points.
There is no point trying to escape this fact.
Like a young child coming to grips with the fact that mum and dad’s instructions are final, the sooner you come to accept this, the sooner you will start to see that like mum, failure is actually a “good mother” trying to teach you discipline and other valuable life lessons.
In contrast, success is a lousy teacher because success breeds complacency. And so often success is a seductress or a false flattering “friend” that showers you with fake compliments.
Embrace failure and pay attention to her lessons
Pick up any biography of just about any successful person and what you will find is a story of failure and ultimately triumph over failure.
Here are 5 of the most important lessons Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, and Zig Ziglar have shared from their journeys.
1. Michael Jordan
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan. Synonymous with legend.
What made him so great?
He just kept trying and trying over and over again. He would fall but he would pick himself up every single time.
It reminds me of this wise saying I once read:
The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.
Let that sink in for awhile. Let’s say you wanted to learn to play the piano. You try 10, 20, maybe 100 times over a period of 1 week, 1 month or 1 year and you get frustrated and disappointed that you cannot yet fluently play Chopin’s “Etude in G# minor, Op.25; No.6.”
Seriously? Get your expectations in check buddy.
We live in a fast food instant gratification world but success doesn’t work that way.
Good things take time. And if you want to become world-class in anything (a master) you need to at least put in your 10,000 hours. That is the admission price to pay to even be considered for the “Hall of Fame.”
2. Winston Churchill
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
One way to overcome the fear of failure that is innate human behavior is to realize that failure is not the end of the world.
Let me repeat that.
Failure is literally not the end of the world. Failure often feels worse than it is in your head.
But the reality is most people only care about themselves and will not even remember your failures.
I mean think about it. Right now if I asked you to list out from the top of your head, the Top 5 Most Embarrassing Failures of any random friend or family member you have, can you really think of it? I bet most people can’t even remember 3.
I hope that leaves a warm feeling in your heart as it does in mind because that essentially gives you a license to fail as much as you want 😉
3. J.K. Rowling
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
J.K. Rowling has a way with words and this really stuck with me.
If you live life so cautiously and always try and play it safe, you miss out on all the excitement, adrenaline and future hopes, dreams and possibilities that make us intrinsically human.
In fact if you have a spare 20 minutes I highly recommend her Harvard commencement speech. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
4. Thomas A. Edison
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Thomas Edison was no ordinary man. Of course many people are impressed by his world-changing inventions and his prolific number of patents. And rightly so. I mean check out the man’s list of achievements.
Yet what I find the most impressive of all his traits is his ability to view adversity in a totally different light than most people.
It is said he failed 10,000 times before he successfully invented the incandescent lightbulb.
Can you really imagine failing even 1,000 at something, let alone 10,000 times?
If you convert that to consecutive days that’s the equivalent of 27 years of failing non-stop! Not only would I have given up by the first few years, I would have started to question myself and fall into a pit of self-doubt.
But Edison didn’t waver. He believed that each failed attempt was a lesson. A lesson how not to make a lightbulb.
And because of that, today we all have non-candle based light in our houses and take that for granted.
5. Zig Ziglar
If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” —Zig Ziglar
This is the beauty of failing.
Is that it’s not all doom and gloom. It has a silver lining, also known as the the fringe benefits of failure as J.K. Rowling called it in her Harvard commencement speech.
If you adopt this attitude, you can turn a negative into a positive, a loss into a profit.
And that’s how you turn your failures ultimately into a great success.
Action points/notes to self
- I must learn to manage my expectations of success.
- Do not have unrealistic timeframes which will only serve to demoralize me.
- Remember that no one will remember my failures so don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
Are you afraid of failure?
Is the fear of failing preventing you from even starting?
Rest assured, you are not alone. Let’s keep each other accountable.
If you have any ideas/experiences to add to my list, please leave a message in the comments.
Would love to hear your input.
Until next time.
Tony Lee Jacobs
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