“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
Feeling discouraged sometimes? Do your dreams take wings and fly away, leaving you grounded for the time being? It happens to all of us and when it does, it’s important to remember that success is not always success, nor is failure failure. More often than not, following your dream means adjusting your wings, learning from mistakes and going back to the drawing board again and again.
Failure is one of the biggest fears we all have and one of our greatest teachers. Resilience, innovation and creativity are all closely linked with accepting failure as part of the process of success. Not an easy taskmaster, but one that grounds us with a stronger ability to build our dreams or discover the talents that might show us a better dream.
Vera Wang once was a competitive figure skater, dreaming of going for the gold. But her dream failed when she did not make the Olympic team. Instead she got a job at Vogue and the rest is fashion history.
Oprah Winfrey was demoted at her first newscaster job in Baltimore. But it was in Baltimore where she met her lifelong friend, Gayle, who has been instrumental in Oprah’s stellar rise to the top of her game.
Struggling single mom on welfare, JK Rowling, was rejected by 12 publishers for her first Harry Potter book. When Rowling finally sold it to Bloomsbury for the small sum of $4,000, the publisher told her not to expect much in the way of success, as children’s books don’t make money. $1 billion later…
Stephen Spielberg couldn’t get into his film school of choice, USC School of Cinema Arts. They rejected him twice, but that didn’t stop him. He went on to make over 100 movies. To date, Spielberg has won 141 awards, including 4 Academy Awards, 3 Golden Globe and 4 Primetime Emmies. USC awarded him an honorary degree and he now sits on their Board of Trustees.
Bill Gates’ first business failed. When he and his partner, Paul Allen, tried to demo their product, it wouldn’t even work. So much for the bumpy beginnings of a billionaire. Instead of beating themselves up with disappointment, Gates and Allen plugged into the adage “failure is feedback.” They used the lessons to create a better product next time around.
Stephen King was so tired of rejection slips from publishers (over 30), he considered giving up writing. He threw an early draft of his first novel, Carrie, into the trash. Lucky for him, his wife pulled it out and encouraged him to keep going. Carrie alone sold over 4 million copies in paperback. King went on to write more than 50 novels and sell 350 million books.
The list goes on of famous failures. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team (he went home and cried). Walt Disney went into bankruptcy twice and was fired from a job for “lacking imagination.”
It took Edison 10,000 tries before he invented a light bulb that worked. Yet he said of his attempts, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” And he has been lighting our world ever since. All those “failures” were crucial to his success. Edison had to find out what didn’t work before he could find what did.
The same is true for each of us. So next time things don’t work out exactly as you planned, remember that failure is only opportunity in disguise. Whatever your dream, keep believing in yourself and your ability to find what works for you. You will get there!