Everyone Fails On The Road To Success (written June, 1999)

Every human being experiences failure. It’s inevitable. Depending on what your attitude toward failure is, this can be a devastating time or a time of great learning toward improvement. Some people claim to never have failed. These are the people who take the perspective that what they tried might not have worked, but it leads them to try something different. Other people tend to throw up their hands and claim to have given the attempt their best shot or have tried everything and then they quit – these people definitely have failed. With this in mind failure is a choice – and the failing is in the quitting.

It’s an attitude toward failure that determines if a person will succeed or not. Failure provides the tools for a person to become a success. Failure provides wonderful opportunities to learn, grow and improve. Successful people take that knowledge and run with it! They look for other avenues – be creative – change their game plan – they just don’t quit. It’s the quitters in life who fail. The winners in life keep trying and keep learning from their mistakes. The winners think of failures as the inevitable consequence toward success!

Life is a journey and there are always forks in the road. With each decision a person makes, no matter how large or small, they are saying yes to one thing and no to something else. Every person chooses which road (decision) to take. Maybe someone has chosen a road that doesn’t work for them. Therefore they learn from that. They learn what does not work and they stop trying the same thing over and over expecting it to work. They try something different. Just because a person chooses a road to take, it doesn’t mean that they can’t turn around. The choice is always theirs to make. If where they are going or what they are doing is driving themselves crazy, stressing themselves out, and it feels like they are struggling every step of the way – that might be a really good indication what they are doing might not be the right road for them to take.

Have you ever been lost driving in a new town? Didn’t you try a lot of different roads? Perhaps you even went around in circles a few times. Maybe you even crossed some familiar roads that weren’t the right ones to your destination. Perhaps you thought you were on the right road, kept going and you had that uneasy feeling that this might not be the right road after all. Then you were even farther from where you needed to turn. So you turned around. Your adventure took its course – whatever you made it to be. I’m presuming you eventually found your way out. Was that a failure? You could look at it that way. Was it a success? Yes – in that you successfully learned one of at least two things, either a great new short cut to your destination or which road not to take again!

Oddly there are even times when we are doing something successfully and want to experiment with finding a better way. Tiger Woods is a great example of this. He is a very successful golfer – his record speaks for itself. Then in the middle of his extremely successful career he decides to change his stroke.  What’s with that? You would think if it isn’t broke – don’t fix it. However he knew something could be better. He took a few steps back and started working on his new stroke. Well after he mastered his new stroke, he’s back on top. Did he fall when he decided to change his stroke? Some could say yes, in that he wasn’t ranked as high as he previously was for a period of time. Yet he didn’t quit and there’s no coincidence he came back stronger than before.

Each and every one of us is born with a god-given spirit of persistence and determination to go after what we want and not to quit until we get it. We have an inborn spirit that tells us to keep trying something different until we discover what works for us. This is the spirit we are born with – and I can prove this to you beyond a shadow of a doubt! Can you walk? Think about that. When you were a baby and barely lifting your head, you saw all the big people walking. From that moment you knew you wanted to walk. First you had to build your muscles to even be able to sit up. Then you figured out how to get across the room by crawling. Cool! That worked for you to get from one place to another.

Was that enough for you? No – you still wanted more! You wanted some serious movement! You wanted to walk. In your baby brain you observed, you experimented – someone held your hands and you were starting to feel what balance was. You would grab hold of the coffee table or whatever was available (you weren’t very picky!) and pull your self up. Oh yeah – you are on your way now! Nothing is going to stop you! Keep that in mind – nothing is going to stop you! All the times you let go of the hands or table, all the times you wobbled and fell. You still got back up – you knew what you wanted and were determined to get it. That is the spirit you were born with. Did you fail? Was falling failing – or was it learning what not to do on the road to success?

You saw what you wanted (to walk), and you didn’t quit – no matter how many times you failed. You kept getting right back up and trying until you succeeded. You succeeded the only way possible – through dogged persistence. Then you decided to run. And just like Tiger Woods, walking was working for you – and yet there’s something more. And run you did. There is that time in life when kids have two speeds – run and stop. And stopping is usually for naps or nourishment.

Since the time of walking and running, you have calibrated and learned what works best in any given situation. You have mastered various degrees of pace, what works when you are late, what works on a romantic walk, what works in any given situation. When you get frustrated with any kind of failures in life – stand up and take a walk. Ask yourself, “What am I saying yes to?” and “what am I saying no to?” Change your perspective. Change your attitude. Calibrate and don’t let the failures in life tempt you to quit. Learn from the failures and know that if you don’t quit – you will always win!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.