Inspiration From Success and Failure


Failure. The other F word. If it came down to hearing failure and you in the same sentence rather than the other F word and you, I might prefer the more vulgar option. One word I often use and hear frequently. The other is an offensive word which I can't stand. It makes me cringe. Makes me lose sleep. Overrides pleasant parts of my life. Why is that so? Because I allow it to. I allow the dark cloud which accompanies conflict and failure to roll in and linger too long. Wait a minute, this is too simple of an answer.

I have had many a success. I have had many a failure. Do I gloat about the successes? Not likely. Do I obsess on the failures? Absolutely. To a fault. What kind of sense does this make. I am not putting a question mark here on purpose. It is a statement and I am slamming my fist on the table.


I have read so many times how many failures all the great business people endured on their way to success. Read, understood and believe. So many times, it's not even necessary to list the names. The field is unimportant. Business, writing, politics. Ronald Reagan ran for President 3 times before he was elected. Henry Ford had many failures prior to his eventual success. Big, hairy, lose a ton of money failures. His path was speckled with some pretty big flops. He took the good along with the not so good and built on them. He may have also been a merciless tyrant to work for or be related to but that is outside of what I am talking about today. He took his failures with him and built an enduring empire.



Another character who also shares a Michigan connection is Thomas Edison. He was self educated or maybe even home schooled long before it was stylish, but it was more out of necessity. He lost his hearing at a young age and engaged himself in numerous ventures starting as a child in an attempt to make money for his family. He had anything but an upbringing of privilege or advantage of nearly any sort. Yet he went on to be one of the most influential inventors of modern time. Can anyone imagine life without a telephone, much less a the modern evolutions of his phonograph or light bulb? I think my daughter's generation considers life without a cell phone barbaric. Edison may also have been a bit of a tyrant to work for as well but that also exceeds the parameters of what I am talking about. He persisted. He endured. He took his failures and created and enduring history. He took each successful or profitable invention with his failures and moved on.


This gets inspiring, just wait. Now here is a story I have not heard until I began the extensive research necessary for this post. Colonel Sanders. Not the poser currently making his rounds on the commercials, the real one. To start with he did serve in the Army but I am pretty sure that is not where he earned the title Colonel. He went through loads of jobs, failed ventures and more before he started to find some success. But even when he found success it was speckled with failure. His relentless hard work and an idea to sell fried chicken did eventually take off in a big way and continues to expand as an empire. This is all history still being written and it wasn't because the people involved took their failures and gave up.



I was not there I can't explain how someone takes a huge failure and figures out a way to turn it around. I think it has to do with life and almost pure perseverance. I have certainly lived long enough to have seen a lot. I emphasized that word more than italics allow. I hope I have learned from both the success and the failures along the way. I will admit when it comes to live and learn I wonder if you ever get old enough to not need to learn quite so much. I have not reached that age yet. The bottom line is, no one will do it for me. I have lived long enough to have this figured out. The one thing each of the people I mentioned here have in common is their work ethic. They worked hard and worked long. They labored and persisted through it all. We can help each other out along the way and I hope we do. But in the end if I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. Need help? Ask someone. You might be surprised at the answer.

What is inspiring about failure? Everything. Without failure there is no success. At times failure is more of a stepping stone than a true lack of success. Not every time, but often enough. Countless times in my life I have prepared for something only to have that which I was preparing for vanish. It may have looked like a failure on the surface but my preparations eventually made me ready for the next opportunity. An opportunity I never considered but without the previous failures, I would not have been prepared for either. There is the other side of everything. Having the courage to press forward to it is what can be a challenge. Is the challenge worth the struggle? I can't answer this because I don't have a choice. I can't give up. It may be a hard pill to swallow but this is where I find inspiration in failure.

1 comment :

Will Singourd said...

I have only one thing to say: "Fug fear!"

(That's how Mailer spelled it in THE NAKED AND THE DEAD. Stein took him to task for being a bad speller...)