There is no such thing as failure – as long as we learn something from it. Thomas Edison understood this principle. After thousands of failed experiments in his efforts to create a light bulb, he was asked if he was tired of failing. He famously replied, “Failing? I have invented thousands of ways not to invent a light bulb!” The road to most success is indeed paved with what most would call failures but successful people see it differently and therein lies their success. Lets have a look at the all too common causes of failure and how to overcome them.
1. Blaming Others – It is a hallmark of the immature mind to take credit for our success and fix blame and fault for our failure. The question that we must ask ourselves if we are to actually learn from failure is, “What is it in me caused me to think, feel, do this? What can I do differently to produce a different result?” This is the only path that leads to advancement. Unfortunately, our egos are usually in the drivers seat preventing us from asking the questions that point inward. It is much easier to simply blame another or an external circumstance for the failure and in reality, this is rarely the culprit. It lies within us.
2. Having no goals – A goal serves many purposes not the least of which is to give us a purpose. Without a destination in mind, our journey becomes aimless and without passion. We become what we habitually think about thus a goal is of paramount importance. A famous study found that of graduating college seniors, those that actually wrote their goals down on paper were 93% more likely to have achieved them 20 years later. Have specific goals and write them down.
3. The short cut – The very term is used to sell just about everything. YouTube is brimming with short cut videos on just about anything imaginable. But the truth is that rarely is the short cut a truly viable solution. It may bring short term relief from activities we find distasteful, like hard work, but is most often leads to more distress and less achievement over time. As Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Avoid the temptation of the short cut, the road less traveled is usually the path to salvation.
4. Quitting too soon – Winners are not those who never fail, but those who never quit. Richard Bach, bestselling author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull once said, “A professional writer is just an amateur who didn’t quit. So many times, we quit not knowing that success was inches away, about to reveal itself. We quit for a multitude of reasons, most of which are lies we tell ourselves in order to avoid further discomfort and therein lies our greatest weakness. Perseverance, above all other things, is what is most responsible for success.
5. Believing success is permanent – Napolean said, “The most dangerous moment comes with victory.” What he undoubtedly meant was that in the moment we achieve success, we cease to strive believing that we have arrived and no further effort is required. We become complacent while wallowing in our pride, the adoration of others, money, glory, et al. The truth is, success is a fickle mistress. We think we have her but she knows better. She must be wooed constantly. Victory should be seen for what it is. A road sign that tells us we are on the right path. Success, like life, is a journey, not a destination and if we are always striving to better ourselves, our world and our service, she will be a constant companion.
In the end, see failure for what it truly is – an opportunity to learn, grow, adjust and advance. Be thankful for it for without it, there is no success. Much like darkness is not a force unto itself – it need a relationship to the light. So it is with failure and success.