“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Whether you like to hear it or not, failing is part of the process of life but the true value in failing comes from the lessons we learn along the way. Throughout time, many (now) famous and extremely talented people failed miserably before succeeding. The list is actually quite impressive; here is just a few of those people:
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
- Henry Ford was broke more than five times and failed in business.
- Steve Jobs was removed from his own company.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from one of her first jobs because she was “unfit for TV.
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- J.K. Rowling was a divorced singled mother on welfare struggling to get by while also attending school and writing a novel.
- The Beatles were dropped by their record label.
- Stephen King received 30 rejections for the book Carrie
- Seinfeld was actually booed off stage, paralyzed from stage fright the first time he did standup.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
Edison once said that it was “ten thousand failures” that led to the final success of a working light bulb. Therein lies the true lesson about failure: always be moving forward regardless of failure or the number of failed attempts. Here are 5 more great lessons about failure directly from some of the most successful and innovative people on the planet.
- Accept the current failure, but keep trying.
Michael Jordan famously once said that, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” These words have been quoted over and over again. If you think about what he is saying, it is really a calling or an opportunity. Failure then becomes a means to an end, rather than the end itself. Failure is a part of the journey toward success – remember Jordan was cut from his H.S. basketball team which for many could have ended his dreams of becoming a professional. Everyone fails at one time or another, the courage part comes in continuing to try.
- Push forward in spite of failure.
Walt Disney was fired because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” This man is responsible for creating an empire built on imagination and lost his job due to a lack of imagination. The life lesson here is to stay focused on your end goal even when other people fail to see the same vision. Sometimes the creative process takes time for the individual to understand before being able to communicate to others.
- Failure is an opportunity to learn.
Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Certainly, Edison would agree. Every lesson learned, every failure, is a movement in the right direction. The key is to keep staying in action no matter how small.
- The power of belief.
You will never please everyone. In fact, not everyone is going to “get you” or even appreciate you. Elvis Presley, Spielberg, and Einstein were all told to pack it in and give up due to a lack of talent. Yet, can you imagine a world without their music, movies and science? Success begins through believing in what you can do and not what people say you can’t. Never let others discourage you in your journey towards success.
- Sometimes failure means changing direction.
Everyone knows Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream but few know that these two had completely different directions for their lives and still managed to become admirably successful. Both were unsuccessful in the traditional path of schooling and they both managed to become successful entrepreneurs. In truth, there are many people who took the “non” traditional road to success – so always remain flexible.
- Success or failure is a direct result on your level of commitment.
Many people know Babe Ruth as the home run kind but fewer know he was also the strike out king. It was his level of commitment to get up to the plate and keep at it until he hit achieved the many homers he scored. In his own words, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” This lesson is similar to Edison’s remark about his light bulb. The truth is failure is the very engine of success, moving us one step closer to a successful conclusion. Of course, this also means that you have to keep going and not quit in attempting to achieve your goal.
Failure can be many things to many people but ultimately it’s up to you to decide if it will be a breakdown or an opportunity to have a breakthrough. The beauty is, you get to choose and the power lies solely in what you believe.
And if you still needed some convincing, remember that neither Jobs, Gates, Lincoln, Disney, Ford or Edison had a college degree and they turned out “okay.”