A Story of Failure
There are many ways to fail at something in this life. My hope and my wish for you is that when you do fail, and you will at some point, you dust yourself off and get back to it.
I was recently reminded of this fundamental truth while working out in the gym. Picture this, there I am working with my normal weight on low bar squats. I am generally pretty conservative when it comes to the number of reps that I do with heavy-ish weight on my back. I get myself in position under the bar and go through my process before liftoff. Breathing, check. Hand position, check. Position on my back, check. I take in a deep breath and perform the Valsalva maneuver to generate intra-abdominal pressure and stand up with the bar. I take my 3 steps back, steady myself and start my first rep. I get down into “the hole” and stand back up. No problem, feels good, maybe I will get to 6 reps today. Rep number 2, no problem. Number 3, easy day! Now I can’t tell you what I did differently on rep number 4. It didn’t seem like anything was different on my descent but one thing was certain, I was not getting back up. I tried to stand up again, not happening. At this moment I had two choices, panic or stay calm and think it out. I stayed calm got further down in my squat to rest the bar on the safety catches and relieved myself of the weight.
So I failed! The question then became what was I going to do. Well, my workout partner and I simply removed all the weight from the bar and put it back on the rack to start again. That is what you must do!
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” — Robert F. Kennedy
Failure is just a part of the achievement process. There are countless stories of people who are attempting to do something they are passionate about or just attempting to do something great that have to endure countless failures before they achieve success. We have talked before about the fact that it took 408 failed formulas before they finally came up with Formular 409.
Or take Corning’s Gorilla Glass product. It was used widely under a different name up until the early 90’s when it was basically shelved. Fifteen years later, they started experimenting again to make it thin enough for it to fit in consumer electronics. Then Apple came to them to use it in the first iPhone and the rest is history.
The Beatles, one of the most successful recording groups ever, were rejected by multiple record companies because they thought guitar music was on way out. At this point, they could have quit and just given up but they went on to sell 177 million records in the US alone.
Chicken Soup For the Soul the book was rejected by 144 different publishers before being picked up. That is being told no 144 times. In fact, one publisher laughed and said he’d be lucky to sell 20,000. That first book sold more than 8 million copies in America and 10 million copies around the world. Talk about turning failure into success. Canfield said, “So the reality is that you just have to say, ‘I’m more committed to my vision than I’m committed to your doubt or my fear,’ and just go for it…”
At the end of the day, we have to look and decide that what we want to do is more important than the obstacles that stand in our way. Whatever that happens to be. I will not say it will be easy, you will have doubts. When you do, you just have to put your head down, get some advice, and keep charging. It doesn’t matter if it is in business, the classroom, the gym, or the boardroom, the mindset and attitude is the same. Anything you want to do, anything that is great is going to require effort against the resistance. You and I just have to have an attitude of ‘resistance to our cause is futile’ because we will do what it takes, short of selling our soul, to get it done. Get on that dean's list, go for that promotion, start that business, advance that business, whatever it is that you feel like you need to do. Know that failue is coming, build yourself a bridge, and get over it. I am not saying it is easy, I am saying it is necessary and worth it for the rest of the life you want to build.
Let's get after it.