Our world is filled with examples of wildly accomplished people who succeeded because they were willing to fail. Nothing succeeds quite like failure. Think about it.
• Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times en route to the Hall of Fame.
• Elvis Presley was banished from the Grand Ole Opry after only one performance and told, “You ain’t going nowhere, son.”
• Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter and advised, “You’re not fit for television.” (Wouldn’t you love to meet that guy!)
• Walt Disney’s first cartoon production company went bankrupt.
• John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected by fifteen agents and a dozen publishing houses.
• Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections, failed at two businesses and had a nervous breakdown before becoming our sixteenth President.
The list goes on and on. Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowlings, Steve Jobs, Tom Brady, Beyonce, even the Beatles, suffered defeats and disappointments en route to success. Imagine how different our world would be today if these people were unwilling to “fail to succeed!”
Successful people do not allow a setback to stop them. They licked their wounds, picked themselves up and get back in the game. As Albert Einstein once quipped, “failure really is just success in progress.” Yet most of us take painstaking steps to avoid failure for fear of not looking successful. We find ourselves so busy trying to build the perfect image with the perfect credentials so other people will think we are successful that we miss out on actually beingsuccessful.
The lesson to learn from amazingly accomplished people is that the key to success lies in the ability to accept the risk that our plans may fail. Perhaps it would help to pause to consider exactly what it is that we are “risking” beyond being momentarily embarrassed by the judgement of others. How much will those opinions matter a week, month, or year from now? Is the potential reward worth the risk?
It seems that how we rebound from our failures ought to be the standard we apply towards our definition of success. Do we cower and hide in the shadows or do we confidently consider why our plans failed, what we learned from the setback, and how we’re going to move forward? Accepting that we live in a judgmental world, ask yourself if you would rather be labeled a coward or a failure.
Failure offers us learning opportunities, which are vital for personal and professional growth and development. Failure means we were bold enough to try.
Embrace the concept of failure as a good and purposeful thing. Allow yourself the freedom to fail and expose yourself to all of life’s wonderful, albeit occasionally painful, lessons in order to experience a richer, more fulfilling life. The next time things don’t go the way you planned, resist the urge to curl up in a ball feeling embarrassed and afraid of how the world will judge you, shake it off and get back in the game like all the greats do!
Are you ready to fail to succeed?