This month we will discuss how there is no such thing as failure. Actually, we will discuss that the secret to success is failure. That is a pretty hard point to understand, but it is true. The founder of IBM (Thomas Watson) actually said it best, “The secret to success is to double your rate of failure.” Now when was the last time someone told you that? Let’s be clear about this concept. We are not saying that it is great to continue to fail. We all try to avoid failure at all cost. We are saying that you must continue to keep trying and LEARN from those failures and not give up. Eventually you will succeed.
Failure is in our heads
When was the last time you tried something and it didn’t work out for you? What did you do? Did you decide to never try again, or did you learn from that experience and try it again? When you put the notion in your head that you have failed, then you have indeed failed. If you decide to learn from what happened and try again then you actually did not fail. How can you ever learn from something without failing at it first? Who ever does something right the first time?
Let’s take a look at some famous people who have failed many times in their lives:
Michael Jordan. He has six NBA titles, been named an MVP over 10 times. Yet he has missed more than 9,000 shots, lost over 300 games, and 26 times missed the game winning shot. The secret to his success — he kept on shooting.
Abraham Lincoln was defeated in Congress nine times, failed in two businesses he started, had a nervous breakdown, and his girlfriend died. Eventually, he went on to be one of the greatest presidents of the United States.
Thomas Edison. The creator of one of the worlds most used inventions — the light bulb. He failed at thousands of different versions before he created the right one. His comment was, “I have not failed. I have simply discovered 10,000 ways that did not work.”
Think about it — think about something you failed at in your life. What did you learn from it? Did you use what you learned to eventually succeed?
Failure creates unexpected opportunities
Have you ever been on a sports team and found out that you were not very good at a certain position? What did you do? Did you keep trying to find another position that you were good at? There are many players in the NFL that started off in football playing a totally different position. For example, Rashad Johnson, who is a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, was originally granted a scholarship to play running back at the University of Alabama. Due to the large amount of running backs at that school, the coaches saw an opportunity for him to play defensive back and excel at it. Rashad eventually became one of the best defensive backs in the country and was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Cardinals. If he had decided to quit after being moved to his new position, he would not be living the life he is now. Sometimes failure creates an opportunity for success in a new area in your life.
Think about it — when did you try something only to learn about another opportunity? What did you do?
Failure is always a great teacher
Anytime you do anything for the first time you will learn from the experience. A diver learns how to dive into a pool by trying it and then perfecting it each time by changing the way he/she jumps off the diving board. Or how a gymnast practices their routine 10-12 times in an hour. Each practice session isn’t considered a failure. They approach each session as an opportunity to get better.
You have probably heard the phrase “practice make perfect,” and that applies to anything that you do. It can be how you study for tests, how you budget your time for school and sports. You may not get it right the first time, but you must always learn from that attempt.
Think about it — remember a time when you failed a test. How did you study for it? What can you do differently next time?
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michael Bond is the owner of Ahwatukee-based 1st Place Tutoring. His company assists students in grades K-12 with math, reading and science, and has SAT/ACT test preparation classes for high school students. Reach him at (602) 751-3594, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.1stplacetutoringaz.com.