Using Failure to Launch

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill 

(This is the second post about exiting your comfort zone and achieving the life you’ve always wanted.  Feel free to comment and post your thoughts about these topics.  Thanks!)

Failure, a word no one wants to be described as.  A word that fills the mind with such negative thoughts and memories.  See, failure is the one thing that so many of us never want to experience, but our effort to not fail is the main hindrance to our success.   What do I mean?  Simply, failure is oftentimes the launching pad for our success.

What are some famous failures?

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before the first “Harry Potter” book was accepted
  • Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 different publishers
  • Abraham Lincoln failed in business 3 times and lost political campaigns 7 times before coming President
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team

So obviously failure happens, even to those who have achieved great successes.  What they realized and we must realize as well is that failure isn’t the defining aspect of our actions.   Failure is not the end, failure is just the beginning, now you can begin to make the necessary changes.

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure” – Abraham Lincoln 

I hope that all of us have had the opportunity to watch the “The Last Lecture” from Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University, if not, I’ll link it at the bottom.   So much can be learned from his responses to difficulties, or for what many of us call failures.  See, failures are just difficulties.   For Randy, he called these moments, “brick walls”.  To him,  “Brick walls” show just how important something is to you.  They reveal how badly we really value the object to which we are striving.  Far too often we associate difficulties as failures and quit.  We must focus on how to overcome, not just give up.

Let me paint a picture again for us.

Think about yourself as a child.  Somewhere, sometime, you have seen some toy or ball go over a fence into someone’s back yard or field.   Now, when we are children, this signifies trouble.  We don’t think we can climb the fence, let alone jump over it. So what do we do?  We wait for someone to get it for us.   The fence holds us back.  You can see the ball (success), but something is holding you back.  Now, what if you decided to jump over the fence?  What are the possible outcomes?  Well first, you could fall.  Second, you could hurt yourself. Third, you could get in trouble.  Each one of these has negative consequences, but there is always the chance at success.  Lastly, you could have made it over the fence, retrieved your ball and continued to play with it.  Now, the next time the ball goes over the fence, it’s no longer an issue.  The fence doesn’t block you anymore because you’ve overcome that difficulty.

Failures are only difficult times on the road to success. Overcoming these difficult times paves the road for you to travel.

So how can we make failure the launching pad for our successes?

  • Focus:   Success in any aspect of life requires a deep focus on both the end goal and the everyday tasks to get there.  As in the story above, seeing the ball on the other side of the fence is important.  Focus allows us to channel the needed energy to make it.  Write down your goal, share it with a close friend.  Maintain it in your daily routine.  Make sure your focus is able to stay on the goal.
  • Act: Failure isn’t the time to stop working.  Actually, it is the time to start working, just harder.  Action is the most important aspect of responding to failure that we can do.  Action provides us with the needed energy to keep going.  Get back up on the horse when it throws you down.  Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.   Returning to the process will allow you to move towards your goal, even through any setback.
  • Stay: Sometimes this is the hardest part of all, simply stated, stay the course.  Failures in life will knock you down, but you must stay true to the plan you’ve set for yourself.  Be steadfast in your commitment to your goal.  You chose it for a reason, and one simple difficulty should not bring it to a halt.  Stay true to the goal and stay moving towards it.
  • Transform:  As stated earlier, failures are only difficult times on the road of your success. Transform these difficulties into opportunities to learn and grow.  Everything we face in life is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and to become better at working the events of life.  A failure is just another event in our life, for we must learn to overcome and make the best of these situations.  I always like the quote, “When life gets harder, you must have just leveled up.”

As the first letters say, be FAST in your response to failure.  Don’t allow it to hold you down, or force you back from where you’ve come from.  When failure occurs, quickly regroup, understand the situation, and get back moving.   Failure is the springboard to your success.


Click the link below for the video of Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Achieving Your Childhood Dreams



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