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Home / Blog / 2014 : Success: rising above failures

Saturday, August 30, 2014

THOMAS Alva Edison’s most memorable invention was the light-bulb which supposedly took him 1,000 attempts before he successfully developed a successful and functioning prototype. When a reporter asked how it felt to fail, he responded “I didn’t fail. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

With that said, Edison made electric light commercially practical and produced an entire electrical distribution system that supported city-sized populations.

Walt Disney on the other hand, was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract undesirables. The Walt Disney Company now makes average revenue of US$30 billion annually.

During Van Gogh’s short and turbulent life, he managed to sell only one painting for 400 francs titled “The Red Vineyard”, just four months before his death.

Gogh was largely misunderstood by those around him and his art went unappreciated. Nevertheless, he produced an incredible number of masterpieces such as “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” which were created over a nine-year period and his pieces still remain enormously influential and hugely popular to this very day.

Failure – the greatest teacher

Some of the most important lessons of life comes directly from failing at something which could include studies, relationships, health or even at work.

From the likes of famous composer Ludwig Van Beethoven to basketball legend Bob Cousy, failure became a powerful tool for them to reach immeasurable success.

As deafness took over Beethoven, it began to affect his compositions; however the illness itself profoundly influenced Beethoven’s masterpieces. Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Op.125, his final complete symphony premiered in 1824 when he became completely deaf.

Cousy did not make his high school junior varsity squad during freshman year or the start of his sophomore year. Nevertheless, he ended with a 13-year career in the National Basketball Association with the Boston Celtics, winning six championships and a reputation as one of the all-time greatest guards in the history of the game.

Failure can happen at anytime in one’s life but the most successful people understand that failure is important in finding true success. The only way is to learn from your mistake and to ensure that you will not repeat it again.

The green-eyed monster
Jealousy is unfortunately a factor in hindering one’s success. Not only does it make you miserable, it also makes you harder to get ahead in your career as well as your studies and deters you from reaching your set and predetermined goals.

You can be a remarkable student, have a wonderful career, a grand pay cheque or a nice car but if you are predisposed to comparing with someone who has better grades, a bigger salary or a more expensive car, you will never be satisfied.

However, our competitiveness and cultural obsession for comparison is not new but it seems to have somehow intensified with the explosion of social media especially with how achievements, milestones, highlights and photographs are prominently shared.

Instead of focusing on how we measured up to one another which is detrimental to our success, sense of peace, fulfillment and joy in life, wouldn’t it be better to free ourselves from the constant stress, worry and pressure of the paradigm of ceaseless comparison?

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade

Failure is just an opportunity to start anew and every successful person has failed somewhere down the road.

However, instead of giving up, great achievers keep on trying and they hold onto a self-belief while refusing to see themselves as failures.

The billion-dollar business of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer started with a series of failures.

Soichiro Honda initially applied for a job at Toyota as an engineer, but was turned down. Being jobless, he started making scooters at home, which he then sold to neighbours. With the support of his family, he founded Honda and the rest is history.

Author Brain Tracy in his book The Psychology of Achievement writes regarding four millionaires who made their fortunes by age 35. On average, these achievers were involved in 17 businesses before finding the one that took them to the top. They kept trying and changing until they found something that worked.

Aim for the stars

Here are some simple and practical ways to turn failure around.

Let go of denial: Champion failure by using it as a learning tool, a growth tool that can help you see your strengths and areas of challenge in new perspectives.

Eliminate toxic emotions: Eradicate the negative emotions that drain your self confidence and attack your self esteem. Become more aware of your decisions by using new ways of thinking and learning that can eventually catapult you to success.

See Failure as Temporary: By putting mistakes into perspective, achievers are able to see failure as a momentary event, not a symptom of a character flaw.

It is not impossible for people who have faced failure and disappointments to move forward in life. When faced with numerous obstacles in life, achievers work harder and show more determination with one aim – that is to succeed.

The Brunei Times

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