Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.Winston Churchill
Tuesday was a bad day. The weather was nice. Opportunity was all over the place. But frankly, I simply failed at Tuesday. I was a little tired from Halloween on Monday. I was tired from the first ten months of 2022. I was tired. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. The bottom line is that I got a BIG FAT F!
In a 2021 episode of Harbourtime Strategy Talks Podcast, failure was the topic. I thought about that on Tuesday evening as I wound down the day . . .
My dad, Brian Harbour, is an author among other things. One of my favorite books that he authored was published in 2005: 17 Roadblocks on the Highway of Life and How to Move Around Them (see disclaimer below on Affiliate Links).
This book provides several practical ways to overcome the obstacles in life and focuses on the spiritual nature of things. I thought about the book and one of the chapters on Tuesday night. The “Failure Roadblock” or as he puts it, “When we blow it,” was on my mind. Business failures have existed throughout history. People fail. Companies Fail. Ideas fail. Even good ones. So, I am in good company with my failure on Tuesday and was reminded that failures are only short-term obstacles to overcome.
Many things can lead to failure, but apathy was the key driver for my “F” on Tuesday. Even so, when it comes to failure, we are not alone. Failure is just part of life. I dusted off the podcast notes and was reminded of some major failures:
- I’ve read that Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) was rejected over 1,000 times before he achieved success with KFC.
- Oprah Winfrey was declared unfit for television in one of her early jobs and was terminated. Oprah Winfrey! (This ones till makes me laugh).
- Thomas Edison was once told that he was “too stupid to learn anything.”
- One of my favorite actors, Sylvester Stallone, had to sell his dog for $25 and had his electricity cut off WHILE writing the script for Rocky.
- Abraham Lincoln left to fight a war as a captain and returned with the rank of Private. He also went bankrupt TWICE.
The list goes on and on.
Overcoming failure is not easy, but it is definitely attainable. How can we face failure together? How can we ensure that we get past failure and move to success?
In 17 Roadblocks, a few strategies are outlined to deal with each of the Roadblocks. The strategies for dealing with failure are:
- 1. Think the right thoughts: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING! You can control your attitude. You choose your attitude. Approach failure with the right attitude. Prepare for it now. We have two choices/attitudes when dealing with failure:
- Universalize it: Universalizing is applying failure to all aspects of life. For instance, if we have a bad day or a failure such as my “F” on Tuesday, we might think, “I always fail” or “This is so typical of me”. This is universalizing failure and should be avoided.
- Individualize it: On the other hand, we can realize that failure is not universal but rather a specific event. In this case we might use a phrase like, “I failed on Tuesday, but Wednesday will be better.” Realizing a failure as an individual event is key in overcoming failure to achieve success.
- Ask the right questions: Just individualizing it is not enough. We must learn from it. Asking the right questions is key, but you might be surprised at the key question. Don’t seek to find the blame or cause but focus on what you can take from the failure. For instance, you should ask yourself, “What have I learned from this failure?” This can move you around the failure and prevent it from occurring again.
- Do the right things: Now, you need to put those things into practice (The right attitude and the things you have learned). Doing the right things helps us move past failure.
It is also useful to look at what some successful people have said about failure. Learning from greatness is a key component on the road to success. As well as the quote at the top of these post, here are a few good quotes on “failure.”
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
A few themes develop in these quotes, but the one that stands out to me is “success” That is to say, success cannot be achieved without experiencing failure. You will most likely (and most definitely) not get it right the first time. I promise. Remember . . . when you fail, it is not fatal.
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