Somebody out there is about to give up. But don’t. You can get up and try one more time.
Failure is a situation, never a person. (I took that line from John Mason’s book, Know Your Limits Then Ignore Them this morning). We tend to unconsciously link failure with our self-esteem. Our self-talk goes something like: “If I failed, then I must be a failure.” But such conclusion is all wrong. All wrong! Such belief will only hamper your ability to succeed in life. We must disconnect failure from our self-worth. It might not be that easy but we can do it. Many a great man made many attempts before finally succeeding. While it is great to expect success, it is realistic to expect some failures along the way. In fact, great men are those who have gone through failure after failure without giving up. The famous story of Thomas Edison comes to mind. When asked about his failure at inventing a light bulb 1,000 times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Every mistake you have made so far, every failure you have experience so far, can be a step forward-if you learn from them and refuse to quit.
It is said that Albert Einstein failed math as a student (I am not encouraging you to be a math-hater though), but he never gave up. And today, his name is synonymous with physics. There are many such stories of success after repeated failures that could be told to fill a tome.
I had the privilege of having an elderly man speak to me some heartfelt words yesterday. The words still linger in my mind. He said something that I will want to keep with me for the rest of my life. Here is what he said: “Defeat never comes to a man until he admits it.” That is, a man is not a failure, until he admits that he is one. A man may fail at a venture many times but that does not make him a failure.
The theme of this blog is about balance- balance in every sphere of life. Nature creates balance. Life creates balance. When balance is upset, problems result. For example, in high school biology, where there is an imbalance between the producers and consumers in a ecosystem, problems arise. Same thing too in life. You need a balance of successes and failures. Every successful person will have a fair share of failures or mistakes. After all, we are only imperfect humans in an imperfect world. In fact, the Bible says it so in Ecclesiastes 7:14:
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other…”
Here are some facts and lessons about failure that I have gleaned from my reading and experiences so far:
- It is better to fail than not try at all. Making mistakes or failing is proof that you are taking a step forward.
- Failure is feedback. Failure is an opportunity to learn and continue. Many successes were built from previous failures.
- Failure is a situation, never a person. Stop linking your failures without your self-worth. It keeps you down. Yes, failure can be emotionally devastating but you can get over those emotions by proper self-talk.
- It is not over until you give up. Get up and try again and again until you get it right.
- You can learn from the mistakes of others. You will not have the whole time in life to make all the mistakes you can make. Learn from the mistakes of others and minimize yours. A fool refuses to learn from the mistakes and failures of others. In fact, I keep my ears and eyes open to learn from the mistakes of others. Sometimes, I put myself in the shoes of another who has failed to see what I could have done differently. The great thing is that I learn not only for myself in so doing but for others as well.
Find a way to keep yourself motivated despite the failures you experience. In my own way, I read something motivational each day very early in the morning (say, 4 am) when my mind is still fresh and not yet filled with the clutter of the day’s activities. This year start a habit of encouraging yourself in the midst of life’s challenges. You might want to have a favorite motivational quote hung somewhere on the wall of your room where you can see it. Such small actions can make a very big difference in your motivation level.
In closing, I would like to quote Winston Churchill on this matter.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Try again. I believe you will succeed. It is your right to succeed.
Have a happy day.
Please post your comments below. Let me know what you think.