The fear of failure has however crippled many who once were on the path to greatness. This is the kind of fear that will keep you up at night and constantly be in your face throughout the day. Fear is one of the strongest obstacles that will come your way as you traverse the path to success.
Being afraid to fail is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly not a sign of weakness. Just look around you. Over 90% of all people’s endeavors fail and of the few that are able to make any progress, only a sparse few can truly regard themselves as successful. And we do not even have to look very far to see the results of failure. This world is filled with pessimists who once strived to be great and did not make it very far.
Often times, people end up describing success as a result of chance because so many well educated and well-intentioned people end up reaping the bitter seeds of failure. But one failure or even several failures does not mean you have failed altogether. You can only fail when you give up on your dreams and stop working towards your goals. There is always an opportunity to improve on your last performance.
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them, and start again.” Richard Branson
Some failures are actually a blessing in disguise. They allow you to see the flaws in design and force you back to the drawing board to make them even better. While instant gratification by nature is quite enjoyable, when you succeed after being knocked off course by failure, you will appreciate your achievement even more. Furthermore, you are not alone. Many of the great success of our generation were so motivated to keep going after they failed, that the end result was an unprecedented success.
Just think about these examples for a minute:
• Oprah Winfrey: Oprah is regarding as one of the most influential Talk Show hosts of all time. In addition, the billionaire is also a famous Philanthropist, Producer, Actress, and Entrepreneur. One would assume that her success came easily because she lived a charmed life, but this could not be farther from the truth. Having been subjected to the ills that came with being the child of an unwed, teenage mother, Oprah also suffered from several incidents of sexual abuse.
Still, she pushed herself all the way through university and then delved headfirst into the world of radio and television. Imagine how devastated she was when she was fired from her very first job because her superiors felt that she was not fit for television. Did she quit? What kept her going? She was motivated to succeed. Her internal desire to be a radio and television personality worth noticing, even though this field had been dominated by white males, is what kept her going through this very dark time in her career. And as they say, the rest is history.
• Walt Disney: No 20th-century childhood would be the same without the creations of Walt Disney. How could we ever overlook the achievements of a man whose ideas have influenced the minds of an entire generation? But he too experienced significant setbacks on the way to success. He managed several businesses then went belly up and was fired from a newspaper editor job because his superiors felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He kept on pushing and just look at all he has achieved.
• Michael Jordan: Michael himself has been quoted as saying, ‘I have failed over and over again in this life and that is why I succeed.’ Although he is renowned as one of the greatest Basketball players of all time, he did not even last very long on his high school Basketball team. He wanted to play Basketball so badly that he went home the day he was cut from the team and wept. Did he stop playing? Did he give up on his dreams? I think you know the answer. Of course, he didn’t!
He pushed and pushed until he achieved in a few years more than most men ever dream of achieving in a lifetime. But I learned a very valuable lesson from Michael even after he became a success. He missed over 900 shots throughout his professional career. The lesson we can appreciate from this is that success is not the absence of failure. Even if we are intrinsically motivated enough to achieve great things, we will still have good days and bad days. Don’t let your temporary setbacks distract you from the big picture.
•Steve Jobs: The accomplishments of the late Steve Jobs will live on for many years to come. He will forever be remembered as the founder of Apple Inc., one of the most successful and innovative tech companies in the world. His revolutionary inventions have remained unmatched because they are unlike anything we are used to. But just imagine how he must have felt when he was kicked out of the very company he founded. Did this stop him? Not at all. Steve fought tooth and nail back to the top. There is nothing that can keep you down if you are motivated to remain at the top and ready to put in the work. Steve’s example also teaches us about the importance of maintaining a good work/life balance. Steve almost lost his family and friends in the pursuit of success and he grew to regret his choices.
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