Failure is the stepping stone for success Swallow defeat
23 Aug 2012, Vol 0 Issue 1
It's almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. Failure is a part of life; everyone has experienced failure at some time or other.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” legendary boxer Muhammad Ali had once declared.
(To Read the Real Life Success Story of the founder of Naturals, who bounced back after a failed venture that left him with a debt of Rs. 5 Crore, Click Here)
Yet the greatest barrier to success and one of the biggest fears in life that people have is - fear of failure. It is also the major reason that holds back people from realizing their full potential and achieving their goals.
Failure is the stepping stone to success (Photo: FreeImages.com/ Christopher Bruno - for representational purpose only)
Fear of failure immobilizes you, restricts you to your comfort zone, prevents you from moving forward in life and hampers your chances of success.
Defeat is not easy to swallow. There is no worse feeling than facing failure. Failure leaves you bitter, miserable and depressed.
It is then not difficult to understand why most people are afraid of failing. They prefer to play it safe by restricting themselves to their comfort zone and avoiding any risks.
But playing it safe can also be risky. It puts you out of action. You choose to forgo potential opportunities and push yourself into mediocrity. When you restrict yourself to your cocoon, you keep yourself from tapping your full potential.
Failure is a matter of perspective. Many think failure as the opposite of success. But failures are in fact the stepping stones of success. Nothing worthwhile in life has ever been achieved without a series of failures. Failure is, as James Allen has rightly pointed out, one of the ‘pathways to attainment.’
Buckminster Fuller, the renowned American philosopher, architect, and inventor, popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture once said, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial and error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes.”
Fuller has to his credit 28 patents; has authored 28 books and has received more than 60 honorary degrees.
Successful people also make mistakes. They also fail but they don’t give up. Instead they remain steadfast. They overcome their fear of failure and are quick to learn from their mistakes.
There are numerous examples of celebrities, sportspersons, actors, authors and leaders who inspite of facing defeat did not give up on their dreams. They succeeded in overcoming their fear of failure.
Michael Jordan was cut from the school basketball team; Steve Jobs was fired from his own company; Warren Buffet was rejected by Harvard University, Richard Branson is a high school dropout, Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections and Thomas Edison, failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb.
Failure did not keep these great people away from achieving their goals and becoming extra-ordinarily successful.
As Emerson said, “Life is a series of experiments, the more you make the better. Each failure is a trial in an experiment and an opportunity for growth. Even if a failure costs you financially, the educational benefits can far outweigh the loss.”
Overcoming fear of failure is a major factor toward the achievement of goals. The highly successful people are not the most intelligent, most gifted or blessed.
They are just ordinary people who view failures as temporary speed breakers on the road to success. They are successful because they have developed the skill of learning from their mistakes and are willing to move out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks.
When you try, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. But if you don’t try, you are sure to fail.
So don’t let fear of failure hold you back from reaching out for your goals. The key to success is not avoiding failure but to overcome the fear of failure; learn from your failures and use them to build yourself up.
"Failure should be our teacher not our undertaker.
Failure is delay not defeat.
It is temporary detour not a dead end." –Denis Waitley
The Author is a Motivational counselor, Speaker, Ophthalmologist, and Author of 'Principles of Success Made Easy-14 Easy Steps to Climb the Ladder of Success'
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Not too long ago, I stumbled upon Michelle Obama’s last commencement speech as First Lady at the City College of New York. In this speech, she highlighted a lot of different social and political issues that our world is facing today. While her entire talk was exceptionally educational and inspirational, there was one part about adversity that stood out for me in particular, and it applies also to the many failures we experience in life. “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage,” said the First Lady. “Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”
What a great quote, right? The problem, of course, is that it’s easy in theory, but much more challenging in practice. But that doesn’t make it less true.
So today, I’m here to remind you — and myself — that failure in life is not only inevitable but also necessary. Here’s what we all need to remember when it comes to failing.
The Road to Success is Paved with Failures
Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.
– Sumner Redstone
Let’s start with an example.
You have a job and you work really hard at it. You’re always the first person to enter the office, you stay late, and you even work on the weekends. One day, your employer calls you in to his office and unexpectedly lays you off. At that precise moment, your heart sinks and your entire world comes crashing down. You automatically think you’re a failure. You think you’ll never be successful. Does that sound like you? Sadly, we’re all guilty of thinking this about ourselves at some point in our life.
When you do, remember these 4 simple truths to help you dust yourself off and soldier on.
Failing doesn’t make you worthless
In today’s world, we are constantly preoccupied with what others think about us. For some inexplicable reason, we want everyone to think we’re successful and thriving. We fear that if we fail, we’ll be perceived as a good-for-nothing. But everyone fails in life. I mean, look at Steve Jobs or Bill Gates; did they become successful overnight?
Failing opens up new doors
While we often think of failing as the end of the world, it’s actually a redirection. I know it’s hard to believe, but you have to understand that every time something doesn’t work out, it’s because something way better is on the way. All we have to do is work hard, be patient, and trust the process.
Failing makes you stronger
Although failure knocks you down on your feet, it also forces you to get back up and continue fighting. It forces you to get out of your comfort zone and try things you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of trying. In other words, failure forces you to grow. So every time you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Failure is delay not defeat
Life has a funny way of taking unexpected turns, but I promise you it’s nothing against you. You see, everything in life has its own timing, and everyone on this planet has their own personal clock. So sometimes when you fail, it’s not because you didn’t try hard enough. It’s because the universe is telling you that it’s just not your time. What can you do in this case? Trust your timing. Trust the process. Just like Steve Jobs once said:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
– Steve Jobs
And the moral of the story? To quote Denzel Washington, “You will fail.” Not once, not twice, but many, many times. That’s what life is about. So stop being so hard on yourself. Focus on learning the lessons of each failure, and the next one will take you one step closer to success.
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Brenda is a social media guru and blogger (fitness, food, fashion) who also happens to be a strong advocate for self-love and self-acceptance. Her main goal in life is to be happy and help others be happy.