I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 times, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.Michael Jordan
In a modern world where the drive for perfection is greater than ever before, competition is astonishingly high, and attainment is almost viewed as a ‘benchmark’ for our worth as human beings, is it any wonder that the current generation fears the act of failure more than any generation that preceded it? After all if failure is ‘part and parcel’ of life and something that we all need to achieve subsequent success, what has lead us to climate of dreading something so seemingly inevitable?
Now I myself have had many instances of failure and not achieving what I strived to, which is the exact reason I wanted to write this today. The idea of this is not to lecture or gloat, especially because it’s an issue I still struggle with, but to rather share my experiences and explore why the topic of ‘success v failure’ is such an interesting, complex one.
When my mental health took a swift downturn around the period of early 2017, I felt as though I couldn’t do anything right. Nothing I ever wanted or hoped for wasn’t happening, life was passing me by and overall I had an overwhelming sense of underachievement. And that my life was a mere existence, rather than something I was ‘living’ and thriving in along the way. Then again at the time I was in a place of despair, so maybe it was a case of being so depressed that I couldn’t even see my successes!
If you are think of the terms success and failure, I suppose you could argue that they’re extremely subjective in their meaning. It’d be easy to consider success as something massive like getting a dream job or earning X amount of money, and that failure was something awful like being sacked from your job or screwing up an exam, however shouldn’t it be time that we celebrate even the smallest of victories and progressively learn to take failures with a ‘pinch of salt’ and something we can use as fuel to grow?
Next I’m going to name some successful people across a number of different fields; what I want you to do is think of what they have in common. Quick hint: It’s probably not what you expect!
Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Muhammad Ali. Steven Spielberg. Winston Churchill. Nelson Mandela. While they have all been extremely successful in their chosen professions, reaching the pinnacle of fame and acclaim, what helped them stand out from the crowd is their mindset of learning from failure to achieve beyond remarkable success. For them all to get to a certain goal or target, it was almost necessary for them to experience extreme adversity and disappointment in order to realise how strong and capable they really were. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years before becoming South African president, Ali was denied a boxing licence for opting out of the Vietnam War before reclaiming his World Championship belts, meanwhile Jobs suffered numerous product flops before launching Apple and becoming arguably the World’s biggest and best entrepreneur. Although these are just a few examples of people turning disaster into major achievements, the point I am trying to make is that failure shouldn’t define us. Or be a representation of our worth!
If people like Muhammad Ali or Steve Jobs have experienced and then overcome failures of substantial magnitude, ask yourself this: What’s stopping me from doing the exact same? While dramatically flopping an exam or crashing your car in a driving test may seem like the most tragic things to ever happen to you at the time, the reality is that our mind plays tricks on us and isn’t always telling the truth. What we perceive and what is correct are two completely different things. *Shocking I know.*
Though I appreciate many of you reading this may be thinking: ‘It’s not that simple’,’Nothing will ever change’, or that ‘I fail and never succeed’, what I will say is that we all have the potential to achieve what we dream of with the right attitude. There’ll be times where we all stumble and are knocked back unexpectedly, but there’s no question that we can battle through and become even better people. People that are hungry for success, undeterred by failure and prepared to do almost anything to achieve their biggest aspirations. Whether you want a million pounds, a happy marriage, a career as a nurse, or simply want to be happy, repeat after me.
‘No matter what I experience, or how hard I fall, I am capable of climbing the top of the mountain and being better than I even thought possible. Nothing can stop from achieving my dreams!’
Remember- if I can restart college after 3 years out- and Mandela can become president after 27 years incarcerated, you have the ability to overcome obstacles too!
Thanks for reading,