One of the winningest basketball players of history, Michael Jordan, said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan tirelessly practiced his sport; yes, he was talented but he always worked at his talent.
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the record player and batteries. The inventive Mr. Edison described his path to success as loaded with discoveries. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
For Jordan it was practice. For Edison it was a learning process. We don’t see either as a failure; we only remember their wins because their ultimate wins were so big. Edison also said that, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not know how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Too often, we think we should be able to get whatever it is we want to get immediately. It’s easy to lose hope as we move along our path to whatever is in our sights, to our immediate goal. Rather than lose hope, rather than give up, the answer is to narrow your focus and be willing to risk yet another attempt.
Don’t let a failure foil your plan. Allow for failure but don’t make it a habit. Instead, ask yourself what caused the misstep; then, figure out how to improve on your next effort. Success is often a matter of persistence and courage.
For more on how failure is often found on the path to success, read Megan McArdle’s just published The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success or Innovate Like Edison by Michael Gelb and Sarah Caldicott.