We have all heard stories about failure before. Thomas Edison went through thousands of different filament materials before finding one that would work for a light bulb. Before being elected to be President, Lincoln lost elections for state legislator, speaker of the Illinois Congress, a national congressional race, two national senate races, and a nomination for vice-president of the United States. Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest professional basketball player ever to play. He missed half of his over 24,500 shots in a 15-year career.
So, what do these three individuals have in common? They all kept learning from their mistakes, losses, and miss attempts. It is easy to get down during moments of disappointment. The first thing we do is give up, but it is not just giving up on the task we are trying. It is giving up on ourselves. Now, if you truly don’t like something because that hobby, job, or relationship does not fit you and your values, that’s different. However, if you give up on something you truly want simply because you encounter a setback, you won’t know what you are capable of.
Can you imagine what might have happened if Edison gave up on the light bulb after a couple of setbacks with filaments? What would the United States of America have been like if President Lincoln gave up on politics and never became the 16th president? The sports world would look very different if Michael Jordan gave up playing basketball in high school after he did not make the Varsity team as a sophomore because he was too short.
Believing in ourselves is the strongest ally we have on the planet. Fostering this belief in what we are doing, what we can learn, and how we can grow in whatever we do comes from adjusting to failures. Learning to do something better or in a new way is usually inspired by disappointment and perceived failures. How we respond to disappointment and failure is what defines the course of how we might react if we lose again.
Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Talk about a wonderful way to approach life. Mandela did not look at disappointments or failures as losing. Instead, he saw losing as the opportunity to grow in some way. How we approach life can guide us to greatness.
What do you want to do better in your life? What can you learn from some of the mistakes in your past? How will you foster the belief in yourself to not give up on your dreams, no matter what they might be?
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