Yesterday’s Failure: Tomorrow’s Success
Something at work. Details aren’t important. Suffice it to say, I didn’t succeed. I experienced a misstep. I came to naught.
I don’t like the word failed, but that’s what I did. I failed. I faaiiiled. (Images of the Fonz trying to admit he was wrr-ozzz…well, not exactly right flash before my eyes.)
I reacted like anyone would. I kicked myself for having had the confidence to believe I would succeed in the first place. Next, I kicked myself for having told anyone that I would be attempting my goal. Next, I kicked myself for not being better prepared.
I wanted to whisk past it, as if it never happened. I certainly didn’t want to admit to it, least of all to you.
I have invested my life, encouraging family, colleagues, friends—anyone who would listen, really—to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again when they fail. I have reminded them that they were further along than people who hadn’t yet found the courage to try.
Failure makes you grow. Makes you stronger. More resilient. I have always reasoned that, if you can learn from it and do better the next time, you haven’t really, truly failed. What would I be if I couldn’t follow my own advice?
I knew I wasn’t the only one. We all fail, right? Even those we would never consider:
- Walt Disney. Who doesn’t know this name? Yet when he came on the scene, fresh from a little town in Missouri in the early 1920s, it took awhile for people to notice him or realize his genius. He was fired by a newspaper editor early on because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He started a number of businesses that failed. He lost everything he had accumulated three or four times over before he finally landed his spot in entertainment. Disney’s dream of a clean and organized amusement park came true when Disneyland Park opened in 1955. Imagine if his first failure had kept Disney from trying again.
- Thomas Alva Edison was the most prolific inventor in American history. He amassed a record 1,093 patents covering key innovations and minor improvements in a wide range of fields, including telecommunications, electric power, sound recording, motion pictures, primary and storage batteries, and mining and cement technology. Yet, in his early years, teachers told Edison he was, “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. 1,000 tries…imagine if he had given up.
- This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the UK, and all-around never-give-in guy wasn’t always as well regarded as he is today. Winston Churchill struggled in school, failing the sixth grade. He was defeated in every election for public office until he became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62. He is particularly remembered for his indomitable spirit while leading Great Britain to victory in World War II. “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Where would we be, if this man had given up and given in?
- Few would argue whether Fred Astaire was the greatest American dancer Film had ever seen. Born to a wealthy Omaha family, he began his popular vaudeville dance act with his sister Adele at the age of seven. Ironically, Adele was known as the stronger, more talented of the two. Fred remained in her shadow until she retired from dancing in 1931. In Astaire’s first screen test, MGM’s testing director noted, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he had come from. Imagine the fulfillment we would have missed without his art.
- Since the early 1970s, Stephen King has been America’s most famous horror writer. His books are a mainstay within our culture, spawning a multi-media franchise that includes movies, TV shows, video games and comics. Yet before he could realize his dream, he’d known his share of failure. After the 30th rejection of the iconic thriller Carrie, King decided to give up on writing. He threw the manuscript in the trash, accepting his teaching position as his lot in life. It was his wife who fished the work out and resubmitted it.
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About Anna Bradfield
Anna Bradfield has been spinning tales, exaggerating the truth, and flat-out lying almost as long as she could talk. Nowadays, though, she calls it fiction. Buy her ebooks, Hey Grampa! or Barnyard Babies today. Join the online community and receive a free copy of her ebook, Boy Crazy.