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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Failure-Success Loop

There are many successful people in the world, and there are many more people who are not. The main difference between the two is this: the successful ones pick themselves up after failure again and again and then yet again until they finally reach success, while the ones who remain in the failure rut do not do so. They tend to lose hope and faith, get discouraged, begin to get themselves into a mindset where all others get lucky breaks, but they don’t, and so on.

It’s a great idea to motivate yourself into a success way of thinking by looking at some famous people who started out by failing – in certain instances in rather monumentally discouraging ways, and many more times than just once. Several rather well-known examples are:
  • Walt Disney’s first cartoon film failed miserably and his production company went bankrupt. Imagine if he had given up. Imagine the world without Mickey Mouse, without Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and a very long line of etceteras!
  • Barbara Walters was told in 1957 by the man who would go on to become the future executive producer of 60 Minutes, to forget about television. Notwithstanding, she went on to become a host on the television talk show Today, an anchorwoman on The ABC Evening News, and a host of 20/20, as well as winning six Emmy Awards for her work on TV and was also elected to the Television Hall of Fame. Do you remember her interview of Fidel Castro?
  • Steven Spielberg didn't get into film school. Imagine if he had left it at that, and given up, leaving the world without ET or Indiana Jones or Schindler’s List, to mention only a few.
  • Frank Sinatra was expelled from high school for rowdy behavior. Imagine if he had left it at that, and not fought to get to the top … imagine the world without My Way or New York
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporter's job and advised: "You're not fit for TV.” No comment!
  • Johnny Cash sold electrical appliances door-to-door. For those of you who love country music, imagine if he had not believed in himself!
  • Marilyn Monroe, was dropped by 20th Century Fox in 1947 after just one year under contract, because the production chief thought she was unattractive...
  • Babe Ruth spent his childhood years in an orphanage and, as a baseball player, struck out 1,330 times ... on his way to the Hall of Fame.
  • Lucille Ball was told by her dance teacher that she didn't have any talent and should give up show biz.
  • Barbra Streisand debuted on the stage at the aged of 19 in a show that opened and closed on the same night … imagine a world without her songs, without that voice, if she had not been tenacious, and if she had given up!
  • Dr. Ruth had two failed marriages …
  • John Grisham, was rejected by 16 agents and a dozen publishers when he was shopping his first novel A Time To Kill around, and here we are, about a dozen or more bestsellers later, all because he did not give up! All because he was not impressed by failure and rejection.
  • Elvis Presley was assessed by his high school music teacher as not being able to sing. He was also banished from the Grand Ole Opry after one performance and told: "You ain't goin' nowhere, son." Imagine if he had given up …
In other words, before attaining success, most people go through different stages of failure on the way to where they want to go, but those that eventually do attain success, learn something from the failure and then make the choice to pick themselves up and continue pursuing their goal, consistently persisting in achieving it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) is a particularly wonderful and inspiring example to understand this:

  • In 1832 (age 23) he lost his job and was defeated for the state legislature, but was elected company captain of the Illinois militia in the Black Hawk War.
  • In 1833 (age 249 he failed in business, but was appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois and was appointed deputy surveyor of Sangamon County.
  • In 1834 (age 25) he was elected to Illinois state legislature.
  • In 1835 (age 26) his fiancée died.
  • In 1836 (age 27) he had a nervous breakdown, but was re-elected to Illinois state legislature (running first in his district) and received his license to practice law in Illinois state courts.
  • In 1837 (age 28) he led the Whig delegation in moving Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield and he became law partner of John T. Stuart.
  • In 1838 (age 29) he was defeated for Speaker, but was nominated for Illinois House Speaker by the Whig caucus and was re-elected to the Illinois House (running first in his district), and served as Whig floor leader.
  • Between 1839 and 1842 (age 30 – 33) he was chosen presidential elector by the first Whig convention, he was admitted to practice law in the U.S. Circuit Court, he argued his first case before the Illinois Supreme Court, he was re-elected to the Illinois state legislature, he established a new law practice with Stephen T. Logan, and he was admitted to practice law in U.S. District Court.
  • In 1843 (age 34) he was defeated for nomination for Congress.
  • In 1844 (age 35) he established his own law practice with William H. Herndon as junior partner and in 1846 he was elected to Congress.
  • In 1848 (age 39) he lost the renomination.
  • In 1849 (age 40) he was rejected for land officer, but was admitted to practice law in the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In 1854 (age 45) he was defeated for the U.S. Senate, but was elected to the Illinois state legislature.
  • In 1856 (age 47) he was defeated for the nomination for Vice President.
  • In 1858 (age 49) he was again defeated for the U.S. Senate.
  • In 1860 (age 51) he was elected President.
Martin Seligman, the father positive psychologist and author of numerous books, has shown, that what determines whether you give up after a setback or instead, try again, is how permanent you think the setback is and how much you believe in your personal power.

Failure – Success Loop

If you were to examine your own life along the lines of Lincoln’s life, in the sense of looking for failures and successes over the years (large and small), you might see that although you have not yet achieved your biggest goal and dream, you may have nevertheless come closer and closer in steps that might even at first glance appear unrelated to that desired final outcome. I highly recommend that you do this, and in my book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self, this is precisely one of the exercises I recommend that you do.

Here is the formula many of those mentioned in this article appear to have followed consistently:

1. Choose your goals
2. Undertake steps to go in that direction
3. Failure
4. Pick yourself up
5. Learn
6. Persist (continue doing whatever you can right now that goes in the basic general direction of your goal)
7. You may need to repeat the loop from #3-6 a number of times, perhaps many times
8. Success

And remember this: many of the successful people that you see or hear about may appear to have reached the success they have so easily, because we typically hear nothing about the many pitfalls and failures they surmounted in order to reach their goals. As you look at that part of their trajectory (their initial failures and setbacks and obstacles), you may find yourself much more motivated to continue on in your own path towards success.

Famous Quotes about Failure and Success to Inspire You

Note: If you are interested in great quotes about motivational and thought-provoking topics, consider joining me on Twitter and/or on my Facebook Page ”Rewiring the Soul” and have access to numerous quotes each day.

Albert Bandura: Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure.

Walter Brunell: Failure is the tuition you pay for success.

Dale Carnegie: Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.

Sir Winston Churchill: Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.

Bill Cosby: In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

Edward Eggleston: Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.

Albert Einstein: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Men succeed when they realize that their failures are the preparations for their victories.

Malcolm Forbes: Failure is success if we learn from it.

Henry Ford: Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

Bill Gates: It's great to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

A.W. Hare & J.C. Hare: Half the failures in life arise from pulling in the horse as he is leaping.

Napoleon Hill: Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.

Napoleon Hill: Before success, you'll meet defeat and failures. The easiest thing is to quit. That's what most do.

Elbert Hubbard: A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience.

Robert Kiyosaki: Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners.

Somerset Maugham: To bear failure with courage is the best proof of character that anyone can give.

Colin L. Powell: There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.

James Rohn: Failure: A few errors in judgment repeated every day. Success: A few simple disciplines practiced every day.

Florence Scovel Shinn: Often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.

George Bernard Shaw: When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.

Brian Tracy: It's not failure itself that holds you back; it's fear of failure that paralyzes you.

William Arthur Ward: The greatest failure is the failure to try.

Oprah Winfrey: I don't believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.

Zig Ziglar: The price of success is much lower than the price of failure.

For more information about being aware, about success and failure and the way your thoughts and feelings about those subjects influence you and what to do about it, about inner well-being, inner growth and joy, see my book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self, available at Amazon as paperback or e-book for Kindle. Click here to download the first chapter.

"Rewiring the Soul is a thoughtful guide to the peace and joy that self-government through inner awareness brings. In the words of author Gabriella Kortsch, anyone's ideal 'possible human' becomes their actual reality by following the simple inner steps in this remarkable book." JIM WAWRO; author, Ask Your Inner Voice

"This book is a gift to humanity, a valuable tool in aiding seekers to accomplish mastery of their own lives. Gabriella Kortsch provides clear steps to help people find peace in a practical and powerful way. She does not ask you to give up anything other then what no longer serves you. Brilliantly written!" HILLARY RAIMO; Author & Radio Host

"In Rewiring the Soul, Gabriella Kortsch shows us in very practical ways how to lead a soul-guided, soul-infused life. With the wisdom of one who has traveled far and learned much, Dr. Kortsch blazes a path for all who have the courage to follow. The rewards for walking that path are great: an understanding of why we are here; an expanded awareness of who we really are; a new or heightened sense of purpose and meaning; and a deeper appreciation of life's many blessings. Highly recommended." ROBERT SCHWARTZ, author, Your Soul's Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born

Photo Credit: Dawn over Brisbane, Australia

1 comment:

  1. This is a rich reservoir of HOPE for us to tap into! Thank you for the gift of retrospect to help us keep our present circumstances in perspective.