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Failure Should be our Teacher - not our Undertaker

Kim Brebach - Monday, July 02, 2018

Failure should be our Teacher, not our Undertaker

It's human to fail. Just think of Thomas Edision and his 3000 failed light globe designs. It's more than that, though; it's healthy too. We look at 6 'oft-forgot' lessons that can help each of us make failure not just more palatable - but downright appetising.  

It starts with a dream

Each of us can realise our dreams and aspirations, from fame or wealth to winning the Nobel Prize.

It starts with a dream we want to make reality. Often we lose faith when we fail. We lose heart, we lose momentum and sometimes we lose the plot. 

This quote from Denis Waitley gives us the essential perspective:.

'You’re the one who has the dream, you set your goals, it is your journey, it’s your life
You are your own scriptwriter and the play is not finished as long as you’re alive
You only get one life, so shouldn’t you be the one writing the script?'

It also helps to understand this: We all make mistakes and some are costly. In fact, the more costly they are, the more important it is to learn from them. If a mistake is mighty costly, how dumb would be to not learn the painful lesson?

Another fact: the more costly the mistake, the more memorable and less likely to be repeated.   

1. Start with a dream

Think of Martin Luther-King's simple, timeless words: 'I have a dream'.

Brian Tracy put is another way: 'All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine the future they want, and then they work every day toward their vision, goal or purpose.’ (Tracy also famously said: 'The secret to success? Double your failure rate'.)

2. Set clear, focused goals

Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. Goals help us concentrate our energy.

‘An average person with average talent, ambition and education can outstrip the most brilliant genius if he or she has clear, focused goals,’ says Brian Tracy. Committing goals to paper increases the likelihood of achieving them by 1000%. 

3. Single-minded pursuit

We must pursue our goals with single-minded determination. Single-minded means we learn to spend most of our time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than yesterday’s mistakes.

Put another way, we need to focus on what we want - not what we fear. That's because whatever we dwell on becomes our reality. Focusing on fears just makes sure our worst nightmares come true.  

4. Learn to deal with failure

Failure can be painful – think of a slap in the face, or a kick in the guts.

My writing mentor Sol Stein talks about the failure writers suffer – from writer’s block to 100 rejections of their stories. Stein tells the story of Christy Brown who wrote a book with the title ‘My Left Foot’, made into a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Brown had cerebral palsy so severe he only had some control over his left foot, and he wrote his life’s story with his left toe.

When Sol finishes telling that story, he asks: ‘What did you say your problem was again?’

5. Perseverance is everything

The most valuable asset is our willingness to persist longer than anyone else.

Think of Churchill. He was defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62.

Think again of Thomas Edison. He kept going because he didn't see it as failure; he's found 3000 ways that didn't work. Now that's persistence.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

6. Be prepared to change

Successful people are simply people with successful habits.

If we want to be more successful, we have to change our habits, have to get rid of bad ones and develop good ones. Every day. Change is a step by step process.


Kim Brebach
Content Chief

I've always loved people and words. As long as I can remember, I've been a story-teller and the team here says I'm pretty good at it. That's probably why I head up the Content Team: I create the arc of the story and others add their magic. 

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